HOLY MASS ON THE
OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED
HOMILY OF HIS
HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Castel Gandolfo, 15
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
At the end of its Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican
Council left us a very beautiful meditation on Mary Most Holy. Let me just
recall the words referring to the mystery we celebrate today: “the immaculate
Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul
into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as
Queen over all things” (no. 59). Then towards the end, there is: “the Mother of
Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image
and the beginning of the church as it is to be perfected in the world to come.
Likewise, she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come” (no.
68). In the light of this most beautiful image of our Mother, we are able to
see the message of the biblical readings that we have just heard. We can focus
on three key words: struggle, resurrection, hope.
The passage from Revelation presents the vision of the struggle
between the woman and the dragon. The figure of the woman, representing the
Church, is, on the one hand, glorious and triumphant and yet, on the other,
still in travail. And the Church is like that: if in heaven she is already
associated in some way with the glory of her Lord, in history she continually
lives through the trials and challenges which the conflict between God and the
evil one, the perennial enemy, brings. And in the struggle which the disciples
must confront – all of us, all the disciples of Jesus, we must face this
struggle - Mary does not leave them alone: the Mother of Christ and of the
Church is always with us. She walks with us always, she is with us. And in a
way, Mary shares this dual condition. She has of course already entered, once
and for all, into heavenly glory. But this does not mean that she is distant or
detached from us; rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains
Christians in their fight against the forces of evil. Prayer with Mary,
especially the rosary – but listen carefully: the Rosary. Do you pray the
Rosary every day? But I’m not sure you do [the people shout “Yes!”]… Really?
Well, prayer with Mary, especially the Rosary, has this “suffering” dimension,
that is of struggle, a sustaining prayer in the battle against the evil one and
his accomplices. The Rosary also sustains us in the battle.
The second reading speaks to us of resurrection. The Apostle
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, insists that being Christian means believing
that Christ is truly risen from the dead. Our whole faith is based upon this
fundamental truth which is not an idea but an event. Even the mystery of Mary’s
Assumption body and soul is fully inscribed in the resurrection of Christ. The
Mother’s humanity is “attracted” by the Son in his own passage from death to
life. Once and for all, Jesus entered into eternal life with all the humanity
he had drawn from Mary; and she, the Mother, who followed him faithfully
throughout her life, followed him with her heart, and entered with him into
eternal life which we also call heaven, paradise, the Father’s house.
Mary also experienced the martyrdom of the Cross: the martyrdom of
her heart, the martyrdom of her soul. She lived her Son’s Passion to the depths
of her soul. She was fully united to him in his death, and so she was given the
gift of resurrection. Christ is the first fruits from the dead and Mary is the
first of the redeemed, the first of “those who are in Christ”. She is our
Mother, but we can also say that she is our representative, our sister, our
eldest sister, she is the first of the redeemed, who has arrived in heaven.
The Gospel suggests to us the third word: hope. Hope is the
virtue of those who, experiencing conflict – the struggle between life and
death, good and evil – believe in the resurrection of Christ, in the victory of
love. We heard the Song of Mary, the Magnificat: it is the song of hope,
it is the song of the People of God walking through history. It is the song
many saints, men and women, some famous, and very many others unknown to us but
known to God: mums, dads, catechists, missionaries, priests, sisters, young
people, even children and grandparents: these have faced the struggle of life
while carrying in their heart the hope of the little and the humble. Mary says:
“My souls glorifies the Lord” – today, the Church too sings this in every part
of the world. This song is particularly strong in places where the Body of
Christ is suffering the Passion. For us Christians, wherever the Cross is,
there is hope, always. If there is no hope, we are not Christian. That is why
I like to say: do not allow yourselves to be robbed of hope. May we not be
robbed of hope, because this strength is a grace, a gift from God which carries
us forward with our eyes fixed on heaven. And Mary is always there, near those
communities, our brothers and sisters, she accompanies them, suffers with them,
and sings the Magnificat of hope with them.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, with all our heart let us too unite
ourselves to this song of patience and victory, of struggle and joy, that unites
the triumphant Church with the pilgrim one, earth with heaven, and that joins
our lives to the eternity towards which we journey. Amen.