The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sunday, Aug. 15
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6,10
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
There is a sense of mystery in our lives beyond anything we are able to understand and well beyond what any words are able to contain. One day, we go for a walk in the woods, something we have done countless times before, yet this time we are overcome by wonder and awe at the beauty of it all. There is no explaining why this time is so different than all of the other times, and no way of calling it forth again as if from out of nowhere. It is not of our doing, a mystery.
We plan a day away, looking forward to what we will do. Where we will go and what we will do is all laid out in our mind, but then one by one the plans collapse or are reordered. Not at all what we had planned, we accidentally happen to run into a group of friends we have not seen in ages. Others are there with them, some we have never met. The planets intersect for us, and we are introduced to someone with whom we fall in love and eventually marry. Were the collapsed plans intended for us to meet our mate? Coincidence or mystery?
Driving home from work, we are in a horrible accident. Our car is totaled, crushed beyond recognition, except for us in the driver’s seat as if it were a hollowed-out cave of protection. We receive nary a scratch. A mystery.
We look for ways to describe mystery, to explain it. Guardian angels, praying to St. Anthony to find lost items, burying statues of St. Joseph upside down to sell a home. They all become attempts to access and make sense of mystery, even to control it.
Because we live at a time in history that is inclined to deify science, we’re tempted to think that because we do not understand something, it must not be true. Yet, the one thing we most do not understand is why and how falling in love happens, though it is perhaps the most true thing we ever experience. Pure mystery.
Mystery may be the most true thing there is. We live every day in mystery – the wonder of why you and I even exist. There is no way to explain that beyond the biology of it all. There’s no explaining the me of being me and the you of being you and the way we are with our quirks and idiosyncrasies, our likes and dislikes, the way we do what we do.
There is the mystery of why our hearts keep beating, even without our thinking about it, but also the mystery of why one day it stops, why it runs out of beats just like that. All hearts, the hummingbird’s and the whale’s and yours and mine, they all have about 2 billion heartbeats before they give out. How does that happen, that sort of programming?
The gospel this week is about two women who lived with mystery and seemingly were not only OK with it, but reveled in it. One unexpectedly finding herself with child early in life and the other unexpectedly finding herself with child quite late in life. Mary and Elizabeth. Such a curious turn of events brings their paths together, each excited for the other and completely unaware of what it will mean for their futures and ultimately for ours. Star-crossed paths that make all the difference in the world. They seemed better able to live with what they did not understand than do most of us. And they rejoiced in it. Mary: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and Elizabeth: “At the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
The Feast of the Assumption is a celebration of Mary’s participation in the resurrection. Just as Mary is a symbol of the Church, of us as people of faith, the feast celebrates our own destiny to share in the resurrection of Jesus as well. Yet, we struggle how to explain what that looks like for Mary and for us. It is a mystery. At a loss to describe it, we wonder about it through the foggy lens of faith. Thus, we cloak the mystery in the only way we know how, with body words and life/death words and place words. Like poetry, our words seek to describe the indescribable. Still we find ourselves wondering exactly what it may all look like, what to exactly believe. It is truth cloaked in mystery.
How do you deal with aspects of faith that you do not understand?
How do you live with mystery in your life?