[Homily: ADDU Fiesta of Our Lady of the Assumption]
We come today in celebration of Mary’s Assumption. We celebrate Mary in heavenly glory.
But celebrating Mary in heavenly glory is necessarily a celebration of Mary, the simple woman, still a virgin, chosen by God in the small town of Nazareth to play a role in his plan to intervene in history to redeem the world. When we focus on Mary in the midst of the Blessed Trinity in heaven, we also recall her humility and courage in allowing God to use her in his redemption of humankind. Assumed body and soul into heaven, we now celebrate her as Queen of heaven and earth. But that queenship is but a crowning glory for her readiness, despite her fears and misgivings, on this earth and for all eternity to be the Mother of the savior: “Let it be done unto me according to Thy will,” she said. It was the consent which united to God’s saving will human free will, uniting divinity with humanity, uniting to the Word of God’s compassionate yes to humanity humanity’s humble yes to divinity. In celebrating Mary assumed into heaven for having said yes to God’s will on earth, we celebrate her Assumption most profoundly – beyond song and dance, eating and drinking – when we honor her in ourselves saying yes to God’s will on earth.
We say that yes often. At every Mass, in every Rosary, whenever we pray the Our Father, we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. But we also admit, often we pray these prayers without attention to what we are saying; often the prayerful formula masquerades as genuine prayer, so that the radical yes to God’s revolutionary will is reduced to a superficial yes to the will of the status quo, a consenting willy nilly to the way today’s society collectively wills to reserve prosperity only for a privileged few, to keep people ignorant, unreflective and subservient to this will, to so define social development that the established increase and consolidate their wealth on the labor and subservience of the majority, no matter the exclusion of the abject poor, no matter the devastating costs on the environment. But when we with Mary today pray, “Let it be done to me according to your Word,” we are consenting to do the Father’s will, as his Son, the Word of God’s love, the Word of God’s Compassion, the Word of God’s Justice, looks at ourselves in our society today, ourselves confronting a society where so many families are broken by economic needs, or by destructive addictions, or by inabilities of family members to talk to each, to reconcile difference, to recognize the Spirit trying to bring family members to look up from their cellphones and tablets and talk to one another as human beings. We are consenting to do the Father’s will in responding to a society where there is yet so much appalling ignorance, where so many are unable to access the quality education we access, where so many educated fall short of the quality reflectiveness we need for social justice and social revolution, where in Muslim Mindanao teachers fall short of the qualifications necessary to deliver basic education to a population hungry for education, and children all over the country get education without getting educated. Thy will be done. We are consenting to do the Father’s will against the way we use drugs for special entertainment, just to break the boredom through a chemically induced high, or how we binge ourselves to drunkenness, and, drunk, throw morality out the window, abuse each other, then blame the other for the abuse we invite, and so turn a night of abandon into a nightmare of personal transgression, violence or even death. Thy will be done, we pray. Thy will be done, when we neglect to smell the flowers or appreciate the clarity of the rushing waters, and so allow profit-seeking corporations to destroy the mountains, cut down the forests, kill the rivers and poison the fields we use for planting the food we eat. Thy will be done when we finally gain insight into the historical injustice committed by ourselves against Filipino Muslims or against the communities of our indigenous peoples, and know that lasting peace cannot come without doing justice. Thy will be done, when after all the bombing and killing to preserve the State and the common good, the confusion persists as to who the real enemy is, and confusion reigns as to whether God wills war or God wills peace, and when today the children, especially the children, feel they have no home in their homeland, and where in all the dust and rubble, they are simply hungry. God’s will be done. We pray it all the time. But somehow getting truly involved in doing God’s will eludes us. We get distracted by petty matters of great concern. Yet, on this Feast of the Assumption, when we recall that we too are meant to be assumed as Mary into heaven, we must renew ourselves in our willingness to say, “Let it be done to me according to your Word.”
The theme of our Fiesta, which is owned not only by the student community, but by the entire University community, faculty, staff, administrators, students, is: Mary, Our Mother, Protector, Intercessor and Guide as we dream and work for genuine solidarity and peace. Gratefully, from the time Jesus on the Cross presented Mary, his mother, to us as our mother, we call her mother, Ina, Inay, Mama, Mama Mary. As our mother, in these confusing and dangerous times, she is our Protector. She points us to her Son loving us all, and so points us to all that is essential in life. In the power of her Son, she shields us from the enemy, even often from the enemy within. She is our Intercessor. In times of need, we pray, “Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary… never was it know that anyone who fled to thy protection, invoked thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided…” From our experience, we know she never fails. She is our Guide. As a Mother she is at our side to counsel and advise. She is our Mother, protecting, inspiring and guiding us as we dream and work for genuine solidarity and peace. We dream, not the wistful experiences of disjointed consciousness in slumber, but we dream, consciously and conscientiously cultivating great desires to work together in solidarity with others that brings about social justice, and thereby genuine peace. In the joy and great privilege that we have to be part of this school and so participate in this fiesta of Our Lady of the Assumption, let us find our solidarity with the poor and the excluded.
Many of you still recall Fr. Ning Puentevella who recently published a little book with many beautiful illustrations called Mary, Quite Contrary. It is a remarkable book of a humble Jesuit with an extraordinary love for Mary. In talking about Our Lady of the Assumption, Fr. Ning says, “What we affirm of her, we hope for ourselves.” As Mary is in heaven, so too do we hope to reach heaven; as Mary was redeemed through the death and resurrection of her Son, so too do we hope to be redeemed in his death and resurrection; as she in heaven was transformed in flesh and in spirit, so too do we hope to be transformed from these earthly vulnerable concupiscent pain-ridden bodies and drooping spirits to the glorious fullness of body and spirit, ultimately the “fullness of life” in heaven that that her Son came to our world to bring us (cf John 10:10); as she whole and ecstatic embracing her Son is embraced by the Father in the love of the Spirit, so too do we hope to experience in heaven the ecstasy of this heavenly embrace. And as we do well consciously to dream of this today by embracing our responsibilities for social justice, solidarity and peace on this earth, we ask our Mother, to show us the way.
She does so by pointing us to her Son, the Way, the Truth and the Life, looking into our hearts from the Cross, pointing to her as our mother. She points us to her Son, and all that this entails, as only a Mother can.