My Spirit Exults In God My Savior
A reflection on the readings for the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15th
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFA
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus
The Gospel for this Feast day continues the story of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel to Our Blessed Mother that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God’s only son where Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth and upon hearing Mary’s greeting Elizabeth “gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
On this feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother into Heaven , I can’t help but call to mind the first part of Luke’s Gospel describing the events of the Annunciation and Our Blessed Mother’s response since the feast of the Assumption is also the anniversary of my Ordination to the priesthood.
Seven years ago at 69, an age that many ordained priests are looking forward to retirement I was ordained to the holy order of priest in Washington DC. The news that I was to become a priest, like I am sure the angels message to Mary, came as a complete surprise to me but one that I accepted with trust and faith in God and the hope that I could be worthy of such an immense honor. & years later I pray that my labor for the honor and Glory of God and my humble attempt to spread the Good News of God’s infinite mercy and Love for ALL His children has inspired those who have felt unloved, unwanted and rejected to claim their rightful place within the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church and to partake of all the sacraments that God has given us.
I, like I am sure Mary did, questioned how I was worthy of accepting God‘s call to serve Him and asked "Are you sure it is I Lord?" Each day since then I pray that I have done God’s will and served Him and that I have been an instrument of bringing others closer to God.
I seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother to her heavenly son asking that God will send the Holy Spirit down upon me to inspire and lead me in knowing and doing God’s will.
Every person on earth receives a call from God but God allows us the freedom of to accept His will for us or go our own way.
We constantly are challenged to live our lives according to the teachings of God found in the commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We need to consistently ask ourselves questions like; Do we love God above all things? Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves and do we see Jesus Christ in all the people of the world as being our neighbors and God‘s children? Are we living according to the instructions found in the Corporal Works of Mercy and The Beatitudes?
Mary lived her life fully in accordance with the Jewish faith. She was prayerful and totally committed to Almighty God. She lived her life according to God’s commandments and the precepts of the Jewish Faith she was brought up in.
Mary accepted God’s will for her even though she knew that as an unmarried woman found with child she could be stoned to death.
The Gospel for The feast of Assumption is from Luke 1:39 - 56 and ends with the words of Our Blessed Mother in responded to her Cousin Elizabeth’s greeting. Those words have become a statement of faith that we now pray as The Magnificat which is Latin means “ to Magnify” is considered the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church.
Mary’s total acceptance of God’s will for her and her willingness to become God’s humble handmaid when she responded with these words; , "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word". The words to the magnificat are;
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior;
because he has looked with favor upon his lowly handmaid. From this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, his mercy reaches from age to age for all those who fear him. He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
Mary’s words clearly state that God did not come for the rich and famous or the powerful of the world, but Christ came for the poor and those who society considers lowly.
I often wonder if we could have that kind of faith and trust in God that Mary had?
Do we acknowledge how blessed we are for all the gifts He bestows upon us every day?
Do we fear God, not with the kind of fear that we usually think of like fear of flying or of spiders or some terrible catastrophic event but the kind of fear where we are in awe of the wonderful power and majesty of Almighty God and we turn to God for praise and thanksgiving and worship because He is worthy of all those things?
Believing in God is believing that His will is always right and just.
By accepting His will and going forth with all of our energies to live according to his will is what life is all about.
In order to have the kind of faith Our Blessed Mother had we have to give ourselves over completely to God’s will for us and accept it just as Mary did when the Angel appeared to her and told her she would bear a child out of wedlock, something that according to Jewish law required that she be put to death.
Accepting God’s will is not easy, especially when we are faced with serious health issues, the inability to meet our financial obligation, challenges to our faith by others and issues like homelessness, poverty, and unemployment
We all need to listen carefully for the times when God attempts to speak to us in our hearts and not pass it off as an illusion or a dream and close our hearts and minds to God speaking to us.
It was not until I stopped demanding to always do things my way and to begin to ask God for guidance I began to find true peace within my heart and mind.
Just as Mary acknowledged that “the Almighty has done great things for me” we too need to acknowledge the things that God has done for us.
God’s love for us is infinite and forever and as Mary acknowledged “His mercy endures forever” even when we try to ignore Him and go our own way and yes, even when we have fallen away through sin, God does not give up on us.
All we have to do is acknowledge Him and attempt, with the help of His Divine Mercy and the Holy Spirit, to live our lives in a manner that is not harmful to ourselves or others.
We have to remember that only God is perfect and He knows the human condition is far from perfect.
He respects and loves us as we struggle with the difficulties of our daily lives and the pressures applied to us by a society that has values other than those that Christ instructed us to have.
God choose Mary to be the mother of His only begotten son because she lived her life in accord with His laws as they had been handed down through the prophets and the Jewish Faith.
Jesus came to earth to bring us a new covenant and Mary accepted that and followed Jesus even to watching him suffer and die.
She was there when he arose and when the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles.
She was the First and most loyal of all the disciples. She showed us how to follow Christ.
If we begin to change ourselves and totally give our lives over to the will of God, accepting His will, just as Mary did, possible we might, one day, hear the voice of an angel speaking to us and saying “God loves you for being His good and faithful servant and is welcoming you home to His loving arms.”
Let us have the faith of Mary and let us serve God by serving all His children with love, compassion, mercy, charity and acceptance and pray that God will receive us as His good and faithful servants when our days here on this earth are over..