Dear brethren, I bring you greetings of peace in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and may you to be imbued with the virtue of humility now and always. The Lord truly raises up the humble and lowly. We have proof of this in this month’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. Mary, though lowly, was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator. And, she who knew her lowly status would later proclaim, “My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Saviour for he has remembered me, his lowly servant! … He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” [Lk 1:47.52].
Mary’s Assumption and God’s Concern for the Lowly
The pages of Sacred Scripture furnish us with a host of great men and women who though were seemingly insignificant at their time, were chosen by God to carry out special mission. We recall our father in faith, Abraham, who was called from his simple life to make a journey of faith which would see him become the father of a multitude of peoples (Gen 12). Moses, the child who was drawn from the water and eventually led the people out of captivity in Egypt did not have any military might or royal recognition to be accorded audience by the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 1-4). How can we forget the man after God’s own heart, David who was called from the fields where he was tending to his father’s sheep and was anointed King of Israel as we read in 1 Samuel 16:1-13. The prophet Samuel would have anointed anyone of his seven older brothers to be king, all fine, strapping young men, not David, the scrawny teenager. But God chose the youngest, David, and made him the greatest king of Israel ever had.
This pattern of God raising up the lowly is repeated again and again in the Bible. On one occasion God chose a man named Gideon as the deliverer. Gideon himself asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you” (Judges 6:13). At a low point in Israelite history, when all seem to be disobeying God’s directives and disregarding his promises, the Bible records the story of Ruth. People might have looked down on her because she was a non-Israelite. But God turned her life around, and she became the great-grandmother of King David, in the line of the Savior. Is not God always pleased with the lowly of heart?
The Assumption continues the theme of Divine goodness which God showed upon Mary who all through her lifetime was faithful to God’s will. Her “yes” at the annunciation gave rise to her song of praise – the Magnificat. Her Assumption into heaven at the end of her earthly life is further proof God raises up the lowly. Indeed, He raises them to the enviable and noble heights of Blessedness. God’s choice of Mary was made right at her Immaculate Conception and further revealed at the Annunciation during which she did not hide her astonishment. It was indeed surprising that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth and not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things. It was simply a choice of someone who was open to God and who put her trust in Him, even without understanding everything: “I am the Lord’s servant, may it happen to me as you have said” [Lk 1:38]. That was Mary’s answer given in full consciousness of her status as “The Lord’s servant” – a show of humility.
In the light of the Assumption of Mary, it is easy to pray her Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) with new meaning. In her glory she proclaims the greatness of the Lord and finds joy in God her saviour. God has done marvels for her and she leads others to recognize God’s holiness. She is the lowly handmaid who deeply reverenced her God and has been raised to the heights. From her position of strength she will help the lowly and the poor find justice on earth, and she will challenge the rich and powerful to distrust wealth and power as a source of happiness.
Can we be like Mary?
The call for us then as we celebrate the triumph of Mary and her lowly state in the Assumption is that we are to be unassuming for all we truly are and have are from God. In a world where there is the race for power and supremacy at various levels, it is important for us to look anew on the person of Mary and how her virtue of humility and recognition of the power of God to work in her life assured her of God’s unfailing merits. We have every reason to be humble when we recall who we are and what we have done. But beyond that we are grateful to be elevated by God and honored to be children of the heavenly Father.
Besides, we are also called to be instruments of God in our society, raising up those who are weighed down by the challenges and situations of life. This call is urgent especially in the midst of great social imbalance that plagues our country in particular and the world at large. We cannot fail to mention the situations of injustice that leave a great many at the mercy of limited few. Men and women must strive to enthrone equity and fairness, giving to each person what he or she truly deserves. The Blessed Virgin Mary deserved the gift of Heaven for her noble role in the history of salvation. Just as she was lifted up from the lowly earth to share in the joys of heaven, may we too be lifted at the end of our life’s struggles and share in the happiness of Heaven. Amen.
May the Blessings of the Assumption of our Lady be upon you all.
Peace be with you.
See Other Messages from the Bishop »