August 15, 2021
Feast of The Assumption
See the video of this homily.
GOSPEL STARTS AT 26:09
HOMILY STARTS AT 28:58
Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab
God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”
Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
for “he subjected everything under his feet.”
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. At that announcement, this beautiful story – this beautiful love story of salvation begins.
Now, we don’t have a whole lot of information that we learn about Mary in the Bible itself. But there were books that were written, especially the Protoevanpalium of James, which is the first gospel of James. It’s not canonical, so don’t go looking in the Bible for it, but you can find it. But it gives background stories especially about Mary. And what it says is that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, which is also Hannah, were unable to have children. And, at the temple, Jaochim gets kind of told that it’s his fault. So, he goes away into the country to pray. He doesn’t tell Anne that he’s gone off. He went straight off to pray, and she’s left there with the fact that she can’t have children, that her husband seems to have left, and so she’s kind of in a really bad spot. So, she goes to God and prays, and she says, “God, if you give me a daughter, I will dedicate her to your service.” So, then Joachim and Anne had the same dream, where an angel tells them they are going to have a daughter, and she’s going to be a very, very special person. And so, they come back together, and after, Mary is born, Anne follows up on what she says she is going to do. And she takes her to the temple of Jerusalem and has her dedicated to the Lord.
Now, after that, you have this young woman, who hears this announcement from an angel. Do I have any 13, 14, 15-year-old girls here? Anybody? With a hand (indicating the female altar servers)? Can y’all stand up for just a moment? Brothers and sisters, this was the young woman who was hearing this message. Beautiful young women, but they don’t know anything about the world yet. (You can sit down now.) They don’t know anything about the world, right? And so, here’s this young woman hearing this, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Can you imagine what these young girls would think if I walked up to them in the evening light and said, “Hey, girls, the Lord is with ya.” They’re going to run. They’re going to hide. And the cops are going to be coming to visit me, soon. If you imagine this young woman, 13 – 15, no matter because she’s very young. She hears this announcement that she is going to be the Mother of God.
Now, I’m telling you, I’ve got a ton of questions if I’m Mary. But she doesn’t ask one question other than “How can this be? I have not known a man.” But her faith is so great that she says yes. Without having any of those answers, she still says yes.
And so, she does become pregnant. And her fiancé is about to set her aside. But an angel tells him, “Don’t do that because this is a very special young woman and this child is going to be Emmanuel, Child Among Us. Eventually they get married, but before that, you hear about this beautiful visit where Mary goes to Judah and visits with her cousin, Elizabeth. Now Elizabeth was barren, like Anne was barren. So, Elizabeth conceived of a child, even though she was barren. Anne conceived of a child even though she was barren. And Anne means Hannah, and Hannah was barren ‘til she became pregnant with Samuel. God does amazing things! Nothing ever stops God from doing amazing things.
And then, of course, the child is born in a manger. Right after the child is born, the have to run off to Egypt because of the warning about what’s coming, which is the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. And so, they live in Egypt for a while, and they come back. And Mary becomes the first apostle. Because she knows, she serves Him because she knows His mission. She knows what all this is about. Even Jesus tries to put it off. At Cana when Mary says, “They’re out of wine.” Jesus says, “What’s that to me? My time has not come.” Basically, Mary says, “Your time is here.” And she tells the steward to do what He tells you to do. And, of course, He does His first miracle.
“The Lord has done great things for me.” God continues to forgive us for every single time that we break the covenant. God has never, ever broken a covenant with us – not one time. And yet, He continues to forgive us for breaking those covenants. And He’s always willing to make a new one. In that first reading, you hear John talking about what’s happening. He’s sending out a code book to new Christians. And he’s talking about this woman bathed in the sun, and just so beautiful. And she’s pregnant. And she is laboring to give birth. That’s Mary.
The first ark of the covenant had the 10 Commandments in it – the Word of God. What we’re hearing is about the new covenant. Because Mary, now, has the Word of God who is growing in her womb. God had so much faith in her and she had so much faith in God that no matter what, she was going to follow through with what she needed to do.
So, if God gives us all these riches, if He does all these great things for us, why are we living in poverty today? Churches – big buildings – they got money, right? But the churches aren’t the people. They’re just a building. Really and truly, we can’t blame God. God has done everything. He’s remade covenants, time after time, after time. He has forgiven us all that we do. So, why, are we living in poverty? Not material wealth. I’m talking about spiritual poverty. Today our Church suffers because our faith is not strong. Our faith is not rich. And the thing is that an easy lie – it’s easy to take that and work with that. An inconvenient truth is more difficult. An inconvenient truth means that we’re being told something that we really don’t want to hear. An easy lie allows you to water down our faith – the faith that we should be pulling from the scriptures, every time that we hear them.
I hate to say this, but I would be willing to bet that if I walked around here and just randomly stopped somebody and said, “What did the scripture say today?” they probably wouldn’t be able to repeat what it was. If you leave here and you don’t remember the scripture, if you don’t remember what I am standing up here and telling you right now, then our faith is falling further away.
Brothers and sisters, we have to be doing something now – moving forward to increase our faith. Because I promise you, if we don’t, we’re not going to even have faith. And like I said, I can’t blame Fr Pat for this. (I will, but I’m not supposed to…) But the fact is that it’s not God – He loves us and will do anything for us. It’s not governments. I mean, in early christendom, people died and yet their faith continued to increase exponentially. So, it’s not the governments, and it’s not the clergy. We don’t get to blame anyone but one person. If our faith is poor, there’s only one person to look at. You’ll find them in the mirror. If you’re not willing to increase your faith, if you’re not willing to study, if you’re not willing to listen to scripture, if all you’re doing is coming here and checking a box, our faith will eventually die. And I can’t help but go back to these two young ladies up here in this sanctuary. That’s the age of the young woman who changed the world absolutely. Because she didn’t question, her faith was strong enough that she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”