Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity Homily Abbot Mark

Wednesday, 15 August 2012  
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity 
 Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 

Assumption of Mary, 2012                                                                 Community Mass Homily
The feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven may seem to some like putting her on a pedestal which we look at from afar. - We admire her position and then forget about it for another year.  If we did think along those lines we would be missing out from an awareness of what our Christian life is all about.
The life stories of the saints, and of our Lord himself, show us what we can become.  They are a mirror in which – if we look at them long enough – will transform us into what we see there.
In recent days and weeks we have seen the happy enthusiasm that has emanated from the London Olympic Games.  Everyone who has kept in touch with what has been going on there has been caught up in this infectious spirit.  Athletes have excelled in their achievements.  Some have won an Olympic medal for the first time or have set personal bests.  Most of those who did not win but came in second or third acted as if they had actually won.  Their silver or bronze medal was ‘gold’ for them.   The achievements of their teammates had encouraged them to perform better themselves.  The huge crowd of onlookers also spurred them on to higher levels of performance.  Together, individual sports men and women, their fellow competitors and the watching crowds, all made for a wonderful winning experience.  The ones cheering and those being cheered on, were all different parts of the same experience.
Entering into the lives of the saints is not all that much different from the dynamics seen at work at these Games.  The Olympic scene showed us the immense physical efforts, the speed and concentration required for excellence.  St Paul in one of his letters to the early Churches writes about striving to win the race.  He urges us on by telling us that it is only the person who comes first wins the crown.  So, he said, we must strive to win. 
However, the spiritual life is not logical in these matters.  There is always the need for sustained and real effort to win.  But all of us have different gifts and different levels of excellence.  It may be that the nearest we get to a medal is a personal best.  In the Olympic Games one person who gets the gold medal, but we all strike gold if we prepare and perform as well as we possibly can.  There is only one colour of medal in the spiritual life if we run in it as best we can.  The saints show us this.  They competed in the race where their better selves ran against their less-than-desirable selves, using all their abilities and working with the handicaps they had. 
The glorious anthem and the golden light of the resurrection shone for Christ at the end of his race when he rose from the dead.  When we put on the new man that is Christ, we take part in his race of life in our own particular way.  And our Lady followed him closely, so closely that she has joined him, standing by his side with her own winner’s medal.  In Christ we are all runners and, so long as we keep running, all winners.
All the talk after the London Olympics has been about leaving a legacy to encourage the young, and perhaps the not-so-young, to take up sport and to excel in it.  That is what the Church has long been recommending that we do as regards our faith and life in Christ.  We learn to put on Christ, to achieve as he did, by watching how other holy men and women themselves learnt from his example throughout the ages.
When we look at the lives of the saints generally we see the energy and attention they exercised in their following of Christ.  But in the Assumption of Mary, which we are celebrating today, we rejoice that she has, after her own efforts and discipline, arrived.  She has been taken up to heaven where her Son has himself already ascended to.  They have both received their gold medals. The Feast of the Assumption is Mary’s finishing line.
No one achieves anything of lasting value by themselves.  We can do it only by living in and through the energy and strength of our Lord’s own resurrection. It is the power and adrenaline of his Holy Spirit who fuels our muscles and pumps his blood through our veins that make our success possible.  We all go to heaven together on this track of life.  And together we will find Mary standing by her Son waiting to present us with our own winners’ medals.