Sunday, August 15, 2010

Everything That Comes Down Must Go Back Up

Homily from the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

You’ve heard the phrase, “Everything that goes up must come down.”  It’s very true.  Phil Mickelson blasts a tee shot and it comes down 300 yards or so later.  Planes take off only to eventually land.  Even satellites that are launched into orbit eventually fall into disuse and drop back down to Earth burning up in the atmosphere.

It’s a very “earthy” statement: “everything that goes up must come down.”  It speaks about one of the ways in which the world works: the law of gravity.  But it’s not the way God works.  In fact, with God, you might say the opposite: that with God, “Everything that comes down must go up.”

Today, as we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see an amazing example of how God works: how everything that comes down must go up.  Mary, upon completion of her life on this lowly earth, was taken up body and soul into Heaven.  She, who was born without the stain of Original Sin, would not experience the bodily decay of death.  She was not a typical fallen human being.  Rather, she was “full of grace” as the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed at the Annunciation.  Mary is the perfect creation of God.

How many times when we mess up and sin do we say, “Oh, that’s just human nature.”?  Well, in reality, while we do have the tendency to sin, sinning is not our true human nature.  In fact, there is nothing more inhuman than sin.  It’s not the way God created us.

Rather, it is the result of the fall of man, the sin of our first parents: Adam and Eve.  Before the Fall, before Adam and Eve disobeyed God by listening to Satan instead of our Father, before Original Sin, Adam and Eve were created with Original Grace.  Like Mary, they too were born without Original Sin and could have lived free from sin.  That was God’s original plan for mankind.  But in their disobedience, Adam and Eve, and all of mankind with them, fell.  But it will not be this way forever.

As we heard in our second reading: through Adam, death entered the world. But through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, the resurrection entered the world.  Just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ all shall be brought back to life.  The law of our fallen world states that “everything that goes up must come down.”  

But the New Law of Jesus Resurrected reads “everything that comes down must be raised up.”  Our second reading also states that all will be brought back to life in their proper order: first Christ, then those who belong to Him.  Well, who belongs to Christ more than His own mother, Mary.  So, in Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, we see the first evidence of God’s promise to all of us, fulfilled.

In a few moments, as we pray the Eucharistic Prayer, we will proclaim Mary as “the beginning and pattern of the Church.”  We are the Church.  So Mary shows us the beginning and pattern of our destiny.  Those who belong to Christ, will see the resurrection of their own bodies on the Last Day.  Her Assumption is a sign of our destiny: resurrection from our earthbound graves up to our Father in Heaven.   Everything that comes down must go back up again.

My Canon Law professor, Sister Elizabeth McDonough, told us that if we did only one thing before we were ordained priests, we should read the last chapter of Lumen Gentium.  Lumen Gentium is the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Church and the last chapter is about Mary, which is appropriate since, as the Mother of Jesus, she is the Church’s first member and model. 

In that chapter, two qualities of Mary are repeated over and over again and they are qualities we should imitate.  The first, is Mary’s perfect obedience to our Father, exemplified so beautifully at the Annunciation, when Mary said “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel and obeyed God’s will that she be the Mother of Jesus.

The second, is Mary’s perfect union with Jesus; in her giving birth to Him, by being His first disciple and the first member of His Church, and by persevering with Him throughout his life even to the point of having to stand at his Cross to watch Her own Son be crucified and die.

And in both of these: Mary’s obedience to our Father and her union with Jesus, we see Mary’s humility.  In the Gospel, Mary calls herself God’s lowly servant.

Humble people are often called “down to earth.”  But today, Mary shows us that the humble are really more appropriately described as being “up to heaven.”

If we imitate Mary’s humility, her obedience to the Father and her union with her Son Jesus, all of us, who have fallen down will rise back up again.

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand how its fair to tell us to "imitate Mary" when she was born without Original Sin and we were all born with Original Sin. We are damaged goods, she was not. Its like if we were all in a college class and the professor said "I expect you all to earn an A. Only one student has ever received an A in this class, and she had an IQ of 700. Nevertheless, I expect each of you to imitate that student and earn an A." Yeah, right...