They say a mother's work is never done, and it could not be any truer than in the case of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every year on August 15 we celebrate the Feast of her Assumption into Heaven body and soul. This remembrance is not just about her death and entrance into Heaven, but it reminds us that Mary's entire life was dedicated to service of Jesus from the moment of her own conception until the end of time as we know it. She spent her life on earth pointing people to her Son, while she stepped out of the way, and she is spending her time in Heaven doing just the same thing.
What we mean by the term "assumption" is that when her life was over, Mary passed from life and was taken straight to Heaven, her soul and body reunited immediately. She was taken bodily into heaven at the moment of her death, not having to wait for the resurrection of the dead as you and I will do. This was the honor that was accorded her because of the immensity of her role in bringing salvation into the world. Mary never sought to be center stage. Rather, she stayed in the background praying and pondering what God was asking of her, quietly raising her Son, with the help of her husband Joseph, until Jesus was ready to begin his ministry.
What is incredible about Mary was not just her courageous and extraordinary humility in saying yes to being the Mother of God. Mary knew when she said that simple yes, that her life would not be an easy one. She knew the dangers of being an unwed mother, and the dangers of Joseph not believing her story; she had unwavering faith in God. She raised Jesus in almost total obscurity. For thirty years He had a hidden life and so did Mary. But we see her emerging from the background briefly when she indicated to Jesus that it was time to begin His ministry at Cana, symbolically saying another yes to her role as His mother. She had to know that once His ministry began He would leave her behind and attend to His mission. She was at peace with stepping aside from being at the center of His life, and letting Him go. In the synoptic gospels we see that she did follow Him, as she showed up once or twice with other family members. But it was never about her. She kept pointing people to her Son.
At the cross (in John's Gospel) she was present, watching the cruel torture He was undergoing. She said yes again, albeit silently, when He gave her John, who symbolically represented the Church. He said, "Woman, behold, your son." This indicated that she was to be the Mother of the Church. It should not surprise us that later, at Pentecost, which is the birth of the Church, Mary was front and center with the apostles. Luke tells us there were 120 people in the Upper Room and the only one specifically named was Mary. Even the Apostles were lumped together as a group. Mary obviously was seen as very important to the community of believers, hence she was mentioned by name.
All this shows us that Mary was of the utmost importance in salvation history. She gave birth to Jesus, thus bringing the Savior into the world. Therefore she is also the mother of the Church, because without Jesus' birth there was no death and resurrection, no salvation, and no Church. After a life of service it should not surprise us that she was given so great a gift as the gift of being taken body and soul into Heaven when her earthly life was over. And it should not surprise us that although she became Queen of Heaven, she has not stopped working in the service of her Son. Mary has continued to serve throughout history. We have evidence of her appearances in so many times and places in order to give a message of hope or a warning for us to pray for the world. She has appeared in such places as the hill of Tepayac, Mexico (Our Lady of Guadalupe); Paris (Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal) and Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; Knock, Ireland; Kibeho, Rwanda; and Akita, Japan, just to name a few. Mary's role is to intercede for the world. Therefore anytime we pray to her we are asking for her intercession, and as always, she does not take any glory for herself. She always points us to her Son, Jesus.
Mary is such an important friend to have because she is more than a friend: she is our Mother, too. She has always been a faithful Mother to all people, especially those who are close to her Son. She is the perfect Mother, loving us and protecting us, and always leading us home to God. Her role as intercessor is important because no one is closer to a son than his mother, and therefore she is the closest person to Jesus there is. He can refuse her nothing. Therefore it is important to go to her from time to time to ask her to take our needs and concerns to her Son, Jesus, who listens to her pleas on our behalf. She has taught us so much, and she never ceases to labor on our behalf. She has been concerned for our welfare here on earth, but her ultimate goal is to serve the God she so loves, and to help us to grow in our love and service as well. She tells us to pray for the conversion of those far from God, to pray for forgiveness of sin, to pray for those who have no one to pray for them, and to pray for the welfare of our world. And she invites us to into her own loving heart, as well.
May we learn from so humble and loving a Mother. May we follow her example, not needing to be the center of attention, but to point others toward the Lord. May we learn to be courageous in our trust for God, just as she has always trusted in Him. And may we enjoy her company as she loves us as the perfect Mother she is. She is the Mother of Love and the Mother of Peace. How blessed we are to have her as our Mother, as well. Let us meet in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Peace.
Below: Knock, Ireland
Heart Speaks to Heart