Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the desert, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah.
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power; for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
All of humanity, male and female, are created in the image and likeness of God. We can reflect on Our Lady's Assumption in light of this basic principle from the creation story. Mostly we are tempted to reverse this process and try to shape God in our own image and likeness. Naturally we have a limited concept of our Creator. How we cling to the notion of a docile God, who will grant our wishes if only we ask him in the right way; or an indulgent God who will turn a blind eye on the double standards in our lives; or a vengeful God, whom we obey only out of fear. To test the quality of our faith we might wonder, Do my ideas resemble Mary's vision of God, especially as in today's gospel when she says, "My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour."
Mary combines sincere worship of God with deep joy in his presence, in the spirit of the advice given to the early Christians, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17). In her Magnificat, Mary is enraptured by God, she does not ask anything for herself, she is not worried about the future; she thinks only of the goodness of God up to the present moment, and of the gratitude she owes to God. In her we have the supreme example of someone totally captivated by the love of God. In this sense, she is the fairest of all God's creatures.
First of all the saints, she is the handmaid, the willing and joyful servant of the Lord. She lived solely for God and therefore God, who cannot be outdone in generosity, gave her the fullness of grace. Now just as Jesus did not abandon us when he ascended to heaven, so Mary has not been separated from the Christian community by her Assumption, but remains for each of us a sign of hope. We are called, like her, to share in the fullness of Christ's glory. She is the model and guarantee of all that the believer hopes to become in heaven. We pray today that we too may be found worthy to come to that place in heaven which God has prepaed for those who love him.