Assumption 2017

"Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ." With these words the Book of the Apocalypse celebrates God's final victory over sin and death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we look at history and contemplate the state in the world today and when we come face to face with the power of evil, these words seem pure make-believe. Yet our faith in God's plan of salvation and the celebration of today's solemnity allow a glimmer of light to shine through the darkness. Indeed, faith in the Resurrection has given Christians hope and consolation in the most horrific situations the world has ever known. Think of St Maximilian Kolbe, whose martyrdom we celebrated yesterday.

Not only does the Resurrection answer our doubts and fears, it also gives meaning to the mystery of Man. Only when Jesus rose from the dead did the disciples finally understand the meaning of his life. Suddenly it all fell into place. At last they began to see the big picture, God's scheme of things, the History of Salvation and our part in it.

Just as every feast is centred on Easter and is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, so too the Assumption, for we believe that Mary, the Mother of God, was taken up body and soul into heaven. It is the greatest feast of Our Lady from which all the others spring, the matrix of Marian devotion. The Assumption came to be known as Little Easter or Easter in Summer and, in many parts of Europe, Catholics make their Easter duty today.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God took flesh and blood from Mary and that flesh and blood were raised to the glory of heaven at his Resurrection and Ascension. Through the Incarnation, he shared his divine life with us as in Mary's womb we shared our humanity with him. That humanity entered the glory of heaven when the risen Christ ascended to the Father's right hand. As a special privilege, as a foretaste of our common destiny, that flesh and blood entered into the glory of heaven a second time when Our Lady fell asleep and was assumed body and soul, such was the depth of her divine Son's love for his Blessed Mother. An ancient antiphon declares, "Through Mary, the gate of heaven, you came to crown our hope and fulfilment: today she goes before us into your kingdom."

We have just heard these words of St Paul, "All men will be brought to life in Christ; Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end." We belong to Christ through faith and baptism. We also belong to him through Mary, the glory of our race, the Mother of all who live and Queen of heaven. Today we celebrate the Easter Mystery, eternal life made manifest in Mary, the "lowly handmaid" of the Lord. "Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me." The Magnificat is not only Mary's song of praise and thanksgiving for what God has done in her. It is also a prophecy of what he will do in each one of us. "His mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him."

So, it is true. "Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ." Christ is risen and Mary is assumed into heaven. Thanks be to God.