Browsing Homilies

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1 Chr 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2 | Ps 132 | 1 Cor 15:54b-57 | Lk 11:27-28 (or)
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab | Ps 45 | 1 Cor 15:20-27 | Lk 1:39-56

Mary has a unique role in salvation history, and we honor her this day for that distinction. But today is as much about the Church (us) as it is about her. At the same time, as both daughter and Mother of God, we should see in our sister a pathway to discipleship that we can hope to imitate. She is one with us in responding to God’s will, one with us in pondering how God is acting through her Son, and one with us in making her way through family sorrow and tragedy.

In Mary’s Magnificat, her great hymn of praise to God, she begins by acknowledging the greatness of God in her own life and the sheer awe she feels at what God is doing in her and for her. She describes herself as God’s lowly servant and acknowledges that she is blessed. We sometimes use the word “blessed” to describe how fortunate we are in a given set of circumstances, usually when things are going well. But God’s blessing in the sense that the Bible uses it describes sharing in God’s life. For Mary, that means she is sharing in the life of God through her Son, right up to and including his passion and crucifixion.

In the 2016 bio-drama film, Jackie, starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, in one of several conversations she has with a priest, following the assassination, she says:

Jackie Kennedy

I think God is cruel.


The Priest

Well, now you’re getting into trouble. God is love, and God is everywhere.


Jackie Kennedy

Was he in the bullet that killed Jack?


The Priest



Jackie Kennedy

Is he inside me now?


The Priest

Yes, of course. Of course he is.


Jackie Kennedy

Well, that’s a funny game he plays, hiding all the time.


The Priest

The fact that we don’t understand him isn’t funny at all.


Jackie Kennedy

If there’s a heaven, there’s your God – with all his empty promises. What kind of God takes a father from his two little children?!


The Priest

Thy Lord sacrificed his only Son –


Jackie Kennedy

[cutting him off]: And my two babies. Arabella in the womb. And Patrick. Thirty-nine hours on this earth. Just long enough to fall in love with him. What did I do to deserve that?


The Priest


The priest then points to the story in John 9 when Jesus and his disciples come across a blind beggar. His disciples ask who sinned to cause the man to be blind. Jesus replies that neither the man nor his parents sinned. He was made blind so that the works of God could be revealed in him.

The Priest

Right now, you are blind. Not because you have sinned. But because you have been chosen – so that the works of God can be revealed in you.

In all the black and white and early grainy color footage that is seared into our nation’s (and the world’s) collective memory of what followed Kennedy's assassination in 1963, who comes close to demonstrating more grace and dignity than her at that time? She had less than three days to personally attend to every detail of the funeral, of which she took ownership; she had to live out her grief publicly on the world stage; and, as I understand it, celebrate her son’s third birthday party on the day she buried her husband, because she didn’t want to deny him that.

The Journalist

You left your mark on this country, Mrs. Kennedy. Losing a president is like … it’s like losing a father. And you were a mother to all of us.

In those dark days, the works of God were revealed in her.

Being blessed by God is being given the grace to savor the good and endure the bad; it is knowing that God is present through it all, accompanying us just as God accompanied Mary.

Mary’s canticle is not all about her. In fact, two-thirds of it shifts the attention away from what God has done for her and announces what God is doing and will do in the world. The last part of her Magnificat is a wonderful description of what we call the kingdom of God. It’s not so much a place as it is a way of being in the world, of experiencing and investing in God’s priorities rather than the priorities of most societies.

God lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry. In short, God is merciful to those who are in need and deals sternly with the proud and mighty. God’s intent is to turn the world upside down and inside out.

Mary’s “yes” to God’s plan in her own life didn’t stop there. Her “yes” echoes throughout history and shows us how to respond to God’s call and, further, how to discover in ourselves and in others the lowly places where God dwells.

In the film, it is portrayed that Jackie experiences the mystery of God who meets us in both the tragedies and triumphs of our lives. You and I tend to need to learn to let go of any vain attempts to control the Holy One. Instead, we can rest in God’s presence and know in our hearts the love that is lavished upon us freely through grace, of which, Mary was full.


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