Saturday, August 15, 2015

Heaven Was Opened

God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.  Revelation 11:19A

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.  Luke 1:50, 52-53

“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”  Luke 11:28

Spoiler Alert:  As we have another solemnity to reflect upon the life of Mary, our first reading gives us a little morality play between good and evil.  Good wins. Despite the lurking dragon, “[h]er child was caught up to God and his throne.”  In thanksgiving for all she had done, God prepared a special place for Mary and, in the fullness of time, assumed her into heaven. 

But why?

Because Mary let God into her life.  She heard the word of God spoken by an angel.  She observed it.  Literally, she let God in by physically having the mortal body of Christ grow inside her. 

Every time we walk up to the altar to participate in the Eucharistic feast, we imitate Mary letting God inside.  We have to open our mouth to take the body of Christ. Yet, for God to grow inside us, we also have to open our heart to live the body of Christ. Just as “heaven was opened” for God to come to earth, we must be open for God to come to us.

Without Mary, resurrection would not be possible.  Without Mary, there would be no Jesus, no first fruits.  “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.”  (1 Corinthians 15:20-21)

We must be open to encounter the Lord of the Bible in life today just as Elizabeth was amazed in joy at her encounter with Mary. 

Coincidentally, today’s reading from the Rule of St. Benedict corresponds directly with the Visitation.  As Elizabeth received Mary, we must receive the visitor.

Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received
If a pilgrim monastic coming from a distant region wants to live as a guest of the monastery, let her be received for as long a time as she desires, provided she is content with the customs of the place as she finds them and does not disturb the monastery by superfluous demands, but is simply content with what she finds. If, however, she censures or points out anything reasonably and with the humility of charity, let the Abbess consider prudently whether perhaps it was for that very purpose that the Lord sent her.

And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

The themes in Mary’s life continue to play out today.  Listen to any homily by Pope Francis.  Read any encyclical.  Visit any poor neighborhood or barrio.  The lowly are singled out for God’s favor; human fortunes are reversed fulfilling the promises of the Hebrew Bible. 

How does this happen to me? Perhaps it was for that very purpose that the Lord sent her.

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