Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley
Friday 15th August, 2014 – 9:00am (School Mass)
Perhaps you’ve seen in the news the pictures of the terrible fighting happening in places like Iraq, Syria, and the Holy Land. We need to pray very hard for peace in those places – that people’s hearts will be changed to stop hurting other people. As we see those stories, we also realize that a lot of people have died in the fighting – and that’s very sad.
Through our lives we face the fact that our loved ones do die. Facing the death of people we know and love is probably one of the hardest things we have to face in life. It is natural and normal for us to be sad when those we love die; when they are no longer with us to do all the things we used to do with them.
The feast that we are celebrating today has something very special and important to say to us about death. We know that Jesus came to free us from the power of death. He came to bring us life: a good and abundant life here on earth, and life forever with God in heaven.
We know that Jesus did this by himself dying on the Cross, and then by being raised to life again by God the Father. And so, in Jesus himself, we see that death didn’t have the last word. Dying wasn’t the end of the story. He rose again, and he lives forever. Jesus is alive! And the risen Jesus is here with us!
Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, was the first and most important disciple of his. More important even than the apostles. Mary loved God very much, and she said ‘yes’ to God when the angel came and told her that she was going to have a child who would be the Son of God. Not only did Mary say “yes” on that occasion in answer to the archangel, but she said “yes” to God all through her life. She always wanted to live the will of God: she always wanted to do exactly what God wanted her to do. And so, God had preserved her from the stain of sin from the very moment she came into existence.
And so when Mary was older, and when it was time for her to face death like we all have to, God once again showed how much He loved her. Immediately after Mary died, God took not just her soul, but her body as well to heaven. So now, Mary is with her Son, Jesus, in the glory heaven. She didn’t have to lie in the grave after death; she was assumed straight away – body and soul – to heaven.
This is certainly a wonderful thing that God did for Mary. But it’s not just good news for her, it’s good news for all of us as well. Like Mary, we are the disciples of her Son, Jesus. We too love God, and want to follow him. And we say that we are part of Jesus’ body on earth.
So, just as Jesus was raised from death to life, and just as Mary shared in that rising from death to life in her Assumption, this is what we can look forward to, and all who love God. Jesus has given us a promise: whoever believes in him, he will raise up on the last day.
And so, yes, we are sad when those we love die. They are no longer with us in the same way. Our lives are different without them being around. However, that sadness gives way to a much greater joy that Jesus has promised us. He wants to bring us all to live forever in the wonderful peace and joy of heaven – a place where all evil is gone, where no one is sad anymore, where no one is hurt, where there is no sickness, no disasters, and where we can never die again.
He has done this already for Mary, by assuming her – body and soul – into heaven at the end of her earthly life. As we celebrate this wonderful gift given to Mary, we pray that we may look forward, even now, to that same gift being given to us and to all our loved ones. That when our earthly life is done, Jesus will come to take us to our heavenly home – where we will see again all those whom we have known and loved here during this life.
Let us celebrate this Feast, therefore, with great hope and joy.