Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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 Luke 1. 39-56

“the Almighty has done great things for me”

Today’s feast is before all else a celebration of the immeasurable graciousness of God, and it is Mary who leads us in praise of God with her beautiful hymn, the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”, she sings, “and my spirit exults in God my saviour.” Everything about Mary is the fruit of God’s grace. When the angel declared that she was chosen to be the mother of God’s own Son, her simple response had been to speak of herself as “the handmaid of the Lord”. This expression identified her as one of the poor and lowly of God, a faithful servant of the Lord with nothing more to offer than complete and utter trust and total acceptance of God’s will. “Let what you have said be done to me” she had said to the angel, and now her spirit exults because God “has looked upon his lowly handmaid”.

Without in any way denying her lowliness and in all humility Mary accepts that “all generations will call me blessed”, for she knows her everlasting greatness comes directly from God, “the Almighty has done great things for me”. So, with a heart full of love and joy she proclaims “Holy is his name”. The freely extended love of God poured out on Mary is the foundation of her blessedness and of this glorious feast of her bodily Assumption into heaven.

God is a God of love and compassion, full of tenderness and mercy, whose “mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him”, especially for the poor and oppressed. God’s demand for justice and compassion to be shown to the poor, the weak, the defenceless is a constant theme throughout the entire Bible, echoed here in the Magnificat. As we rejoice with Mary on this feast we also sing with her in praise of God’s boundless love. Equally we share in her prayer and concern that all who are lowly should be exalted and all who are hungry should be filled with good things.