Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is the Celebration of the Assumption of Mary according to the Catholic Church. It is a holy day of obligation, and the faithful of the Church and the faithful of Mary not affiliated with the Church mark it as the celebration of Her perfect assumption into heaven, both body and soul. It is a day to reflect on the Virgin in Her summation. What, then, is the life of Mary, other than the perfect example of Christian living? At the risk of politicizing this celebration of the Virgin, I have to request that you take a moment and understand that a Christian life is inherently political.

When I say Christian life is inherently political, I don't mean that a Christian must endlessly write letters to politicians and demand that they vote this way or that way on any particular bill. Nor are you necessarily called to strap yourself to a stump in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic in protest of a legal medical procedure occurring within. When I say Christian life is inherently political, what I'm saying is that we are called to be active and support social justice in all its forms. For all the pressure on issues like abortion, it is saddening to realize that there are still the hungry and the homeless who don't get nearly as much attention by the "Christian" Right. So what is Mary's role in this?

The Canticle of Mary, found in Luke during the Annunciation, has this to say about God:

"He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty."

It is a declaration about the leveling of social equality. The proud, the mighty, and the rich are swept away, and the lowly and the hungry are fulfilled. The Canticle of Mary is a response to Gabriel's announcement that Mary is to be the Mother of God. As His mother, She says "all generations will call [Her] blessed". Why? Because, as the Mother of God, She must be the embodiment of all that God is. The Beatitudes are a call to social justice, and, as in Liberation Theology, gives a preferential option to the poor. The summation of Mary is a summation of social justice.

The celebration of the Assumption is not just about the miraculous recognition of Mary's perfection; it is a celebration of a life lived perfectly. It is the principle example of practicing one's faith and living life accordingly. In addition to meditating on the person of Mary and her theological importance, we should also celebrate today and every day by thinking how we can make a bigger difference on the world, creating a plan to do it, and then following through.

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