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 wilderness, 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.
The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.
Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your own people and your father's house. (R./)
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord, pay homage to him. (R./)
They are brought in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king. (R./)
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 Saviour,
for he has looked with favour 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."
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Every human person, male or female, is made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26). Our Lady's Assumption fulfils this basic principle from the creation story. Mostly we try to reverse this process and try to shape God in our own image and likeness. How we seem to cling to the notion of a docile God, who will grant our wishes if only we ask him in the right way; or imagine an indulgent God who will turn a blind eye to our injustices; or a vengeful God, whom we obey only out of fear. To test our outlook we might ask, Do I share Our Blessed Lady's vision of God, especially when she says, "My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." Mary combines deep worship of God with heartfelt joy in his presence, She is enraptured by God, does not ask anything for herself, is not worried about the future. She is focussed on the goodness God has shown her up to the present moment, and calls out with gratitude to God. In her we have the supreme example of a person captivated by the love of God. In this sense, she is the fairest of 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 prepared for those who love him.
The Gospels present the Virgin Mary with features that can enliven our devotion to her in many ways. This vision helps us to love her, meditate on her, imitate her, pray to her and trust in her with a new and evangelical spirit. Mary is the great believer, the first follower of Jesus, the woman who knows how to meditate in her heart on her Son's deeds and words, the prophet who sings to God, the Saviour of the poor announced by Jesus. The faithful mother who stays near her Son as he is persecuted, condemned, and put to death on the cross. Witness of the risen Christ, she who joins together with the disciples of the Spirit who will always accompany Jesus' Church.
Luke invites us to make our own the song of Mary, in order to let ourselves be guided to Jesus by her spirit, since in the "Magnificat" shines the full splendor of Mary's faith and her motherly identification with her Son Jesus.
Mary begins her proclamation of God's greatness: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant". Mary is happy because God has put his gaze on her lowliness. That's how God is with the little ones. Mary sings this with the same joy with which Jesus blesses the Father, because God is hidden to "the wise and the learned" and is revealed to "the little ones". Mary's faith in the God of the little ones puts us in tune with Jesus. She proclaims the "powerful" God because "his faithful love extends age after age". God put his power at the service of compassion. His mercy accompanies all generations. Jesus preaches the same message: God is merciful with everyone. That's why he tells his disciples of all ages: "be merciful as your Father is merciful". From her mother's heart, Mary captures as nobody else the tenderness of God Father and Mother, and introduces us into the core of Jesus' message: God is compassionate love.
Our Lady also proclaims the God of the poor, who pulls down princes from their thrones, takes away their power to oppress others. God also "raises up the lowly" so that they recover their dignity. He chastises the rich and sends them away empty for robbing the poor. On the other hand, he fills the starving with good things, so that they enjoy a more human life. Jesus had the same message, that the last shall be first. Mary lets us welcome Jesus' Good News, that God is the God of the poor. She teaches us to follow Jesus, practicing compassion, working for a more fraternal world and trusting in the God of the little ones. (J.A. Pagola)