Homily for the Feast of the Assumption 2007
This feast is probably the most Catholic of days. It is a celebration of Mary and her place in the story of salvation. As such it is not a feast that many protestant denominations would agree with. Secondly, it was proclaimed a dogma by Pope Pius XII using the charism of infallibility in 1950. This too, is anathema to many other church groups. If we thinks that the recent statements by the Vatican about the identity of other Christian Churches was disturbing to them then we should remember how much consternation the proclamation of this doctrine caused back in the 1950s. On both grounds then to celebrate Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven is a most Catholic thing to do.
It is testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit that almost inspite of this very Catholic feast the ecumenical movement has shown a remarkable growth and vitality since that time. There has been much achieved as well in inter church dialogue concerning the role of Mary in the Church.
In describing it as a Catholic feast par excellence is to remember that this Catholic mind set finds its foundation in the Incarnation itself. Unlike some churches of the more Calvinistic slant, Catholics do not think of human nature as totally corrupted by original sin. That being so, for them, God can be revealed by faith alone. We Catholics think of human nature as damaged by sin but still carrying the image of God. So too all of creation. For us everything is "charged with the granduer of God" as the poet says. For the Catholic the footprints of God are everywhere.
Furthermore, by the Incarnation human nature and all of creation have been raised up. As the liturgy says Christ shares in our human nature so that we might share in the divine nature. So a Catholic imagination is full of signs and symbols, Sacraments. And saints abound. Everying and everyone has the potential to offer us a window into the mystery of God.
So we celebrate Mary mother of Jesus Christ. She is preeminent amongst us, the people of God as we seek to follow Jesus. She is preeminent amongst the saints of heaven. In this Church, the "Communion of Saints," we turn to her for help. Christ is the "first fruits" of the resurrection. Mary now shares in that victory. We too hope to share her glory.