Assumption of Our Lady: Luke 1:39-56

1:39     Mary set out at that time

and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.

1:40     She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth.

1:41     Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,

the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

1:42     She gave a loud cry and said,

'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

1:43     Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

1:44     Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 1:45    Yes, blessed is she who believed

that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'

1:46     And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

1:47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;

1:48     because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant.

Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,

1:49     for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name,

1:50     and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.

1:51     He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.

1:52     He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.

1:53     He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.

1:54     He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love

1:55     - according to the promise he made to our ancestors -

of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.

1:56     Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.

Context and Information

Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel. He had announced to her that she was chosen to be the mother of God’s son. She agrees, ‘I am the slave of the Lord.’ In that culture slavery was very normal. 95% of the population was slave. Slaves were members of the family. Their task was to do what the master ordered them to do. As says the Roman officer in Matthew’s Gospel, ‘I say to my slave “Do this!” and he does (8:9). That was characteristic of a slave. The behaviour of the slave was the mirror of the master. When Mary says, ‘I am the slave of the Lord’ (Luke 1:38) she promises to be the mirror of her Master in her behaviour.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That is reflected in her song ‘Magnificat’, ‘The Lord looked upon his slave and now everybody calls me blessed.’ As if she sings, ‘It is my Lord whom they should call blessed. For I am only doing what he orders me to do.’

Picture Meditation

If I would have been asked to choose a Gospel reading for this day, I would have chosen the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. There he tells that God sent his messenger (‘angel’) to the world to announce that he had decided to come to us to show the way to salvation. If that would have happened in our days, I would expect that the messenger would have been sent, for example, to the United Nations, or to the mighty people of our days, the president of the United States, the European Community, Russia, China, or perhaps to the Pope in Rome.

In the beginning of the Gospel Luke gives the impression that God acts in that way. He sends his messenger to Palestine, the country of his people. Admittedly, not that important in those days, it was to be found at the edge of the Roman Empire. But it was the Holy Land, where the people lived with which he had made history since more than a thousand years.

And of course God sends his angel to the capital of that country, Jerusalem; and in that city: to the religious centre, the temple, to the priest in charge, Zechariah. That makes sense.

But then the same angel is sent to a village Nazareth (ever heard of?), to a house, to a girl, named Mary. First: Jerusalem - temple - priest; then: Nazareth - house - girl. The contrast can scarcely be greater.

Mary lived in the first century. She was an everyday girl. She turns out to be chosen as the mother of God’s son. A very ordinary girl. She could have been the girl next door. Nice young woman. Nothing special.


But after all, today we celebrate that this very common person is elevated above all human perceptions and taken up in heaven. Where I saw only a nice young woman God already saw the high possibilities hidden in her.

He teaches me to look through his eyes at the very common people around me; to perceive through their ordinary outside the divine qualities on the inside. Later Jesus will teach me to look at the world around me in that way. Every ordinary situation reminds him of his Father in heaven, the coming of God’s Kingship. Today the very ordinary Mary is chosen to remind us of the coming of God’s Kingship.

So, I look at the picture. A family portrait of the Holy Family. On the outside very ordinary people. And I keep in mind what vocation each of these people had. And how they changed history.

And I take a family portrait of my own family. And I try to look at these persons with God’s eyes. Or I take a photo from the daily papers... And I try to imagine that God has already in mind to take up in heaven each of them.

And I have a talk with each of the pictured people.

Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J