Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year C 2019 at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville and at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta
Readings: Rev 11:19, 12:1-6; 1Cor 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56
15 August 2019
The Solemnity of the Assumption 2019: Mary model disciple
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Feast of the Assumption always holds a special place in my heart.
It takes me back to the time when I was on a boat, adrift on the vast Pacific Ocean and at the mercy of the elements. We had started out on the Feast of St Clare and on the eve of the Assumption, we were in serious trouble. Food had run out, water had run out and fuel had run out.
As if that wasn’t enough, a huge storm gathered and unleashed its fury right near where we were. In desperation, we got out our rosaries and began to pray in earnest. I am sure nobody could physically hear us for the pounding of the waves, the rain and the thunder. Yet somehow, we survived the ordeal and the day after, we were rescued from our sinking boat, just in time.
We honour Mary assumed into glory at the end of her earthly pilgrimage. The Church believes that she enjoys this special favour because she lived her life in tandem with her son. Mary is exalted not only because of her privilege of biological motherhood but also because – as Jesus said – she has listened to His Word and lived by it.
Therefore, this celebration reminds us of the fundamental Christian belief that the pathway to God and to sanctity is our faithfulness to the Gospel.
Mary is glorified because she has followed the footsteps of her Son in giving her life in service of others. She certainly did not hold back in fear; she did not stay in her comfortable environment. Rather, it was a constant journey into the unknown, a courageous confrontation with life’s many uncertainties. The flight into Egypt, the years of living in exile, the constant uprooting and replanting, the journey to Jerusalem, the agony at the foot of the cross…. Mary knew the rough and tumble of motherhood and more.
The Magnificat is Mary’s song of praise to God. It is also a window into her life of faithful and courageous discipleship. Mary was anything but a fearful, withdrawn, uncommitted, indifferent person. The God she served was one who filled the poor with good things and sent the rich empty away. In other words, Mary was committed to justice, compassion, to raising up the fallen, loving the unloved and advocating for the defenceless. Just as in the life of her son, we too witness the passion for the Kingdom in hers.
Mary acted in solidarity with the afflicted. Thus for example, at the Wedding of Cana, it was Mary who refused to be the neutral bystander. She showed us an example of advocating on behalf of others. She accompanied people in crisis. She stood up and spoke the word of hope for them. Her attitude of deep empathy was different to the fearful reaction of the disciples.
We are reminded of the story of Jesus feeding the multitude in the desert. There the disciples wanted to send the people away. They acted in fear and showed lack of faith. By contrast, Mary engaged the people and pleaded with Jesus on their behalf. She accompanied people in crisis and channelled the energy, love and hope of God to them.
As Christians we cannot remain neutral bystanders in the tragedies that unfold before us. We cannot excuse ourselves from the duty of accompanying people in crisis and channelling the energy, love and hope of God to them. It is integral to being a Christian to speak and act on behalf of those considered dispensable and even disposable by our society. Therefore whether it is the unborn, the vulnerable, the refugee et cetera, we are called to follow the example of Mary in protecting, safeguarding and enabling every human life to achieve its full potential.
Brothers and sisters,
Today’s celebration fills us with hope because it anticipates the final victory of God over evil, violence and death. In the power of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we partake of God’s love, which is stronger than death. As we gather to honour the Assumption of Mary today, we give thanks for her maternal care and protection.
Mary has cared and protected us in our journeys of life, through all changes and upheavals. Mary, who acts in solidarity with those who are in every kind of need.
Therefore, we cannot simply honour her without following her example of care and protection for others.
May Mary then help us to be carers and protectors of those who have been entrusted to us. May she also guide us in our Christian discipleship as we seek to be salt to the earth and light for the world.