Let us live in the hope of heaven - the Feast of the Assumption

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Let us live in the hope of heaven - the Feast of the Assumption

Today the Church invites us to lift up our eyes and contemplate heaven, as we celebrate the assumption into heavenly glory of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The readings for this Mass began with the words from the book of the Apocalypse, “The sanctuary of God in heaven opened.” This final book of the New Testament, with its scenes of cosmic events defying our imagination, reminds us that what awaits us is heavenly glory. It is beyond our imagining. St Paul said, “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

The sanctuary of God in heaven opened for the Mother of our Saviour, for the Virgin Mary, spared of the corruption of the grave and raised body and soul into heaven.

As she beholds the glory of God and sees God face to face, no doubt her hymn of praise echoes in her heart: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.”

Today we can think of the desire of our own heart for the bliss of heaven, for union with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We long to join the vast throng of saints around the throne of God. Our faith stirs within us as we contemplate heavenly glory. We know that here is no lasting place. Here is no final realization to the meaning of our being.

St Paul in the second reading today spoke of the moment when all reality will be finally resolved, and God will be all-in-all. He said, “After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet.” Everything will be subjected to the supreme authority of God. There will be a final resolution of all things. And even death itself will be destroyed. In eternity there is only life.

Here is no definitive homeland for us. Here everything is temporary and passing. Here all falls short of perfection. Here joys are transitory. Here peace struggles to endure. Here our hopes are not fully realized. Here life is fragile and incomplete.

So we fix our eyes on what awaits us. Contemplating heaven brings perspective to our ‘now’ on earth.

The contemplation of heaven and the glory that awaits us sustains an enduring hope in our hearts. We have hope because in the end all will be well. We have hope because we know that in the final resolution of all things, good will rise up purified and glorious, truth will shine forth in all its brilliance, and beauty will be manifest such that our spirits sing.

Pope Benedict in one of his reflections marking this Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary said, “Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.”

Today I invite you to open your minds and hearts in imagining something truly wonderful: a woman, Mary of Nazareth, being assumed into the glory of heaven by the power and love of God. And to know that this is what awaits us.

St John wrote, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (I Jn 3:2)

St John wants us to realise something truly wonderful: that when we were baptized we became children of God. God has claimed us as his own. We are beloved in his sight. And he wants us to be one with him forever in heaven. This is our destiny. This is something wonderful that awaits us.

Today this feast declares that God wants to assume all of us, not only the Blessed Virgin Mary, into heaven.

So let us live as God’s beloved children. Let us live with our eyes fixed on heaven. Let us live in the knowledge that God wants to draw us to himself.

Pope Benedict said this in a reflection on the feast of the Assumption: “From on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand.”

Mary is our mother and from on high she watches over us. We can always turn to her and seek her motherly help and protection.

So let us do this now as we say together the Hail Mary.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, August 15, 2018