Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary‘s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord‘s word would come true!“
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my savior! He has looked upon his servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is his Name! From age to age his mercy extends to those who live in his presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants forever.“
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.
The noun “assumption” comes from the Latin verb “assumere,” which means “to take up.” Today we are celebrating the “taking up” of the Virgin Mary, body and soul, into Heaven when her earthly life ended.
Today what should occupy our minds and hearts as we reflect on the assumption of Mary concerns the way we should think of Mary’s role in our lives now that she is in Heaven. Here our imagination can mislead us. Heaven is not a faraway place somewhere out there in the sky. Why not? Because, since God is everywhere, Heaven is everywhere too. The Letter to the Hebrews alludes to this when it says that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). And so, when we say that Mary is in Heaven, we are saying that she has become very close to us, for she is the most important person in the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.
Now what are Mary and the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us doing? The answer to that question is simple: far from just waiting passively that we join them one day, they are actively helping us on our way in all possible manner—until we, too, may one day enjoy the same glorious destiny.
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