Why / How Catholics and Orthodox Christians Appreciate Mary’s Discipleship

Homily for Assumption of Mary , August 15, 2014

Mary is the symbol of the Church because she witnesses to all that the church can be and what the Church is Promised. Today we witness and celebrate that Mary was and is the first and foremost model disciple of Jesus, her son.
And, as model disciple, she has followed Jesus on to the path of eternal life.

What makes Mary the model disciple? We begin with her faith. As a woman of faith, Mary immersed her days in prayer and contemplation, pondering her religious traditions and the hope of Judaism for a redeemer. Because of her humble willingness to believe all that the prophets had foretold– lived out in each and every moment loving and service her family and community—Mary was able to accept the “Glorious Impossible,” the miraculous pregnancy that brought the humanity of Jesus to fulfillment. Living in hope, hope for a kinder world, a world free of oppression and suffering, free of greed and selfishness. Do we live with that hope daily or do we succumb to disillusionment, indifference or worse? It gives us pause to think had Mary not been a woman of faith and practice, how could she have possibly acknowledged the presence of the angel Gabriel and his marvelous invitation on God’s behalf? Without faith, she easily could have dismissed that mystical experience as a result of lack of sleep or indigestion or a wild imagination. Without faith that she, too, along with all believers, had to make the scripture story her own, open to God’s initiatives in each and every choice she would make, she would never have said, “Yes,” let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary believed that the salvific story of the Scriptures would continue through her — just as you and I must believe that we, too, continue to participate in the ongoing salvation of the world as God’s instruments here on earth.
Today, we claim that what was done by God’s graciousness to Mary will be done to us. And we look to Mary’s life and example to keep us also on the path to eternity, choosing to participate in all that is good , true and beautiful to the very best of our abilities. Recognizing the biblical story continues in us, recognizing if we don’t chose the path of peace on our homes, integrity and honesty in our businesses, reconciling the hurt, the wounded, the angry to God and to the love and hope that comes to us in Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit will be diminished in our time and place. Without living in hope as Mary did, our souls weaken to the possibilities that come from grace. That, dear friends, is something neither we nor this weary world can afford.
Today’s feast is about HOPE IN THE HERE AND NOW and also about hope in the FUTURE. SO now we ask, “What happened to Mary when her earthly life gave way to immortality?” Why nothing less than a realization of our hope in resurrection of the dead!
Today’s feast attests that Mary’s earthly body was transformed akin to Jesus’ resurrected body – a new and brilliant physical reality without the limitations of physics and biology, and taken into heaven. Remember the Gospels clearly state that the Resurrected Jesus touches and is touched by the disciples, eats with them and at the same time emerges through locked doors, appears and disappears at will. So, too, was Mary’s body transformed and like Jesus, taken into the heavenly reality, beyond the limitations of time and space to ultimate intimacy with the God in a communion of saints.
Mary was and is a model of the Church, a witness to the values and benefits of discipleship in Christ. Today, we ask ourselves, isn’t that the kind of disciple we want to be, too?

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