“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” This image, and the rest of the text from the first reading today is – like most of the Book of Revelation – open to various interpretations. It can be an image of the Chosen People of the twelve tribes of Israel, which gives birth to the Messiah. It can be an image of the Church, founded on the Twelve Apostles, which strives to make Jesus Christ more present in the world, in the midst of trials and tribulations. However, it can also be a symbolic image of Mary, the Immaculate Mother of Jesus, who suffered in her heart with and for Her Son.
Mary had more in common with Jesus than any other human being. He shared her flesh and blood, as she was truly His biological mother, unlike Joseph, who was his foster father. She never was separated from God by any taint of sin. She accompanied Jesus throughout His life, from his conception at the Annunciation until His death on the Cross and His resurrection. She followed Him during His public life, prompted His first miracle at the wedding at Cana, and followed Him during His passion, standing at the foot of the Cross even as the sword of sorrow pierced her own heart.
Because of her unique closeness to the Lord and her key role in the Incarnation, when God took on human flesh in her womb, she also shares with Jesus a very special privilege, that we celebrate today: at the end of her earthly life, she was taken up body and soul into heaven. She is the first after Christ to enjoy the full newness of life in heaven. She is, so to speak, the Queen Mother, who – in the words of the psalm – has taken her place in the palace of the King. She is called blessed by all generations, the lowly servant of the Lord who has been lifted up and filled with good things.
This truth of faith that we celebrate today belongs to all of us. Mary is part of our family; she is our Mother who intercedes for us in heaven, where we are also called to go. Jesus told the apostles that He went to prepare a place for us; perhaps we could say that Mary has gone to give a mother’s touch to those heavenly dwellings. Celebrating her Assumption into heaven, we share in her joy, and celebrate with faith God’s promise to perfect His image in us as He did in her. Through Mary’s intercession and God’s grace, may we imitate Mary’s devotion and faithfulness to Christ, so we may also share with her in the joys of heaven.