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Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2021

Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2021

Mass with Youth 2000, St. Munchin’s College Chapel

There is so much to say on this wonderful Feast Day. Let’s pick three points and notice what they mean for us and our world.

First, in today’s Gospel that we’ve just heard, we’ve listened to the Magnificat, the song Mary sings in her meeting with Elizabeth. Mary says, “The Almighty God has done great things for me”. In saying this, in great humility, Mary was indicating to Elizabeth the basis of her life – “God’s love is immense and God loves me immensely”. Elizabeth confirmed Mary as a woman of belief: Mary believed in love, she believed in God’s personal, immense love for her in every detail. She believed God’s plan for her far exceeded anything she could have ever worked out for herself. She had handed over her life to God and day by day God was writing a wonderful story through the ordinary bits and pieces of her life and that would continue right up to the day of the end of her earthly life when the greatest thing of all happened: she was taken up body and soul into heaven. We can imagine when she was taken up she was still singing the Magnificat:  the Almighty God has done great things for me.

So a first invitation that comes to us today is to believe that God is love in every moment, always. And believe that God wants to do great things for you, for me, for our world if we let him work in us and among us. St. Catherine of Siena used to say, don’t be satisfied with small things; God wants great things for you. But those great things happen in the ordinary day-to-day of our life lived well, believing God is at work in all circumstances. I’m sure you’ve heard of Chiara Luce Badano, the young Italian woman beatified a few years ago. While dying of cancer, she repeated constantly: if you want it, Jesus, I want it. She knew that every circumstance, good and difficult, joyful and painful can fit into God’s plan of love.

A second point. In the Magnificat Mary tells us that she has discovered in the Gospel a social revolution: God has put down the mighty and raised the lowly; he has filled with the starving with good things and sends the rich away empty; he protects Israel, remembering his mercy…”. The Magnificat has been called a social charter. So today while we celebrate Mary’s wonderful privilege of being taking up into heaven, we remember the social revolution, a new world that began when she brought Jesus into this world. And the best way we can honour Mary is to imitate her. Around us in our family, our workplace, our studies, we can strive to bring about a new world where love reigns. For that, we can do as Mary did in going to Elizabeth to help her. We can live the Gospel art of loving – let’s not wait to be loved; let’s be the first to love, always beginning again any time we fail, not even wasting time worrying about our failures, but always getting up again being the first to love, bring about the social revolution with Mary helping us. We can be like Mary having a mother’s heart towards everyone.

Third. This Feast Day tells us we have a mother in heaven. And that is good and consoling. We need to turn to her so much. We say it in the “Hail Mary” prayer: pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Mary reminds us of our destiny. At the end of her earthly life, she was taken up and, like a gem inserted into a crown, she was set by God into the life of the Trinity. She now shares body and soul in that life.

Let’s remember that God lives the Gospel! And in the Gospel we read: love your neighbour as yourself. Mary was God’s neighbour and he didn’t just love her any old way. He loved her “as himself”. He made himself small before her – he became the baby Jesus – and drew her up into the greatness of his divine life. This is wonderful. And this is what he wants to do for each of us. He wants to bring us to heaven, sharing in his life – we call it sanctification or divinisation – and we will bring with us our whole life, not just our spiritual soul. God wants to us to come to heaven with our relationships, our achievements and the world around us. So today’s Feast Day invites us to dream as Pope Francis also often invites us to do.  We can have a dream to be like Mary bringing the portion of the world we have inhabited into God. We can make our own the words of a Belgian writer Jacques Leclercq who put it like this: “On your day, my God, I shall come to you. . . . I shall come to you, my God. . . . with my wildest dream fulfilled: to bring you the world in my arms”