by Rev. Robert Suszko, Vice Rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.
Throughout the course of the year we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in many different ways. There are feast days that commemorate various moments in her life and there are feast days that acknowledge the many titles that have been bestowed upon her through the centuries.
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary when we remember that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory. It should surprise none of us that God would grant this singular honor to Mary and to no other human being. It should make sense to us that Mary, who was so close to Jesus on earth, must be with Him body and soul in heaven. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as our human model of trusting faith by recalling her unique role in salvation history and her willingness to entrust herself to God by saying “Yes” to His plan for her life.
We first encounter Mary in scripture when she is approached by the angel Gabriel to announce that God has chosen her to be the mother of His Son. It is important to remember how Mary conducted herself in this moment. When the angel Gabriel approached Mary, she did not try to run away or hide herself as others might have done. Instead, she bravely faced God’s messenger and accepted God’s plan for her. And in so doing, she gave both herself and her life completely over to God.
She did not insist on doing what she wanted with her life, but instead submitted to what God wanted for her life. And she was able to do this because she was a woman of faith; a faith that understood that having a relationship with God means entrusting ourselves entirely to Him. And because of this, Mary is our beautiful and perfect human model of trusting faith.
Mary is our model of faith, not only because she shows us how to listen to the word of God, but also because she shows us how to accept the word of God. In the account of the Annunciation we are told that Mary “was greatly troubled” by the words the angel Gabriel spoke to her. This tells us that listening to God’s word can sometimes be a painful or bewildering process as it must have been for Mary. How could Mary have fully understood what would happen to her by saying “Yes” to God’s plan? But “Yes” she did say because of her trusting faith. She trusted that God would never burden her with more than she was capable of bearing. And it was only as her life continued to unfold that she grew to understand the magnitude of what God had asked of her.
Mary’s readiness, not only to listen, but to accept God’s word should prompt each of us to ask ourselves how open we are to listening to the word of God when it is spoken to us. Unlike Mary, you and I will probably never have the extraordinary experience of hearing God’s word in a face-to-face encounter with one of God’s angels. But each of us have had and will continue to have the ordinary experience of hearing God’s word as it is spoken to us through the people and events that make up our everyday lives. God does speak to us through the people and events of our lives. But do we listen in faith; or do shut it out completely or hear only what we want to hear?
Each of us needs to listen quietly and peacefully for the sound of God’s voice in our everyday lives in order to hear and to understand God’s plan for us. We need to strive continually to remove from our lives those voices that distract us from clearly hearing the word of God. And we need especially to pray, for there is no better way to listen to what God has to say to us than when we are alone with God in prayer.
Mary, our model of trusting faith in God, teaches us how to listen and to accept the word of God in our lives. She is our source of hope as we strive to become more holy as Mary was holy. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption today let us do as Mary did when she accepted God’s plan for her life. Let us say “Yes” to God’s plan for us when we say as Mary said: “May it be done to me according to your will.”