Homily: The Hope that Changes Everything

Homily for the Assumption of Mary 2021

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. This was declared a dogma of the Church in 1950 by Pope Pius XII but it had since the beginning of the Church been part of our teaching. Now we can focus on Mary being assumed into Heaven or we can focus on God communicating to us through the Dogma of Mary being assumed into Heaven.

Let me explain:

If you look carefully at the Gospels you can see that Jesus is always communicating to the apostles not only in his words but also in his actions.

For example, when he walks on water, he is not only demonstrating his own power to do so, he is communicating to them to think in a whole new way and to understand the world in a whole new way. Let’s go back to who they were. They were for the most part uneducated fishermen. I am sure they did not have much formal education except for possibly to receive their respective bar mitvahs. They were fishermen and the greatest practical knowledge they needed was how to fish and bring those fish to market in a way that they could support themselves and their families. Their line of thinking was probably no different than other members of the Jewish fishing industry.

Hear this homily as it was delivered

Jesus comes along and calls these twelve fishermen and he teaches a whole new way to think. So, he teaches but he also acts in a way that leaves them stunned and leads them to see things in a whole new way and to see themselves in a whole new way.

This comes to a head in John 6 when Jesus says one sentence about eating his flesh and drinking his blood and everyone walks away except those same fishermen. Why? Because he promised them what no one else could promise them: Eternal life. Peter says so when he proclaims: “To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.”

In 1 Corinthians 15, we see the oldest eyewitness account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It actually comes after this passage which is the second reading. Paul, however, confirms that there is a form of communication going on. Paul explains that Jesus’ resurrection is proof for us that there is indeed a resurrection so much so that he adds that if Jesus did not resurrect from the dead then we are wasting our time.

In fact, many people do not believe in our faith. They have walked away from the Catholic Church and we saw in the lockdowns how in many states legislators put a low priority on Mass attendance. Fortunately, ours in Massachusetts was not one of them.  Why? Because if we do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection, none of what we are doing makes any sense. Period.

Stop going to Mass and attend your favorite political rally instead.  However, since Jesus did resurrect from the dead, he proves to us that there is a resurrection and brings to life Peter’s words focusing on Christ alone leading us to eternal life.

Mary his mother is full of grace. She is the new Eve.

Jesus is fully human and fully divine, Mary is fully human but not divine. So, Mary’s assumption reminds us that just as Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven so shall we who seek to be servants of her son at the resurrection.

Jesus taught the apostles to think differently. So, these teachings remind us to think differently. We need to understand that we believe in eternal life and, therefore, everything we do needs to be oriented to it.

This is not simply behavior. This is a whole different way of looking at everything. This is to understand the world around us in a new way.

Let me ask you a question? Do you believe in radio? I am sure many people are saying of course we do, we grew up with radio. Great, let’s gather some of the powerful people in our history. Let’s invite Thomas Jefferson and St. Thomas More. Let’s invite Harriet Tubman and Crispus Attacks. Let’s invite Karl Marx and Adam Smith. Benjamin Franklin and Napolean Bonaparte, Ghenghis Khan and Cleopatra, and more and more and ask all these ancient thinkers if they believed in radio? What would they say? Probably, “what’s radio?”

If you believe in radio, then you believe in a light spectrum larger than what we call the visible light spectrum. Radio is part of the invisible light spectrum which would have been completely unknown to all of those thinkers. In fact, some might laugh at you at the thought of invisible light. To them, it would be like having an empty glass that is full.

Now let’s go back to what God is communicating to us.

Paul reminds us that if Jesus did not resurrect from the dead then we are wasting our time.

Mary being fully human but not divine in her assumption leads us to understand that her destiny is ours. There is eternal life, there is a resurrection and there is life in Heaven.

Now how does that simple fact affect everything you do in your life. I am not just talking morally. Remember, you can be an atheist and live Catholic morality. I am talking about everything else. How you live your life, how you greet others. How you stand up for what you believe in, how you interact with the world around you. All of this is rooted in one simple point. St. Paul reminds us that God is speaking to us through many ways and in the resurrection of Jesus and the assumption of Mary, he is demonstrating to us that hope that Peter voiced in eternal life. That hope changes everything.

Consider reflecting on how the message that God teaches us through the resurrection of Jesus and the assumption of Mary affects everything we do. It is a message that we understand through God revealing it to us over the ages but one that many have not accepted at this point. We live and move and have our being from a totally different perspective than those who do not believe in or accept the resurrection.

Finally, think of that message anytime you listen to the radio.

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