Homily for the Assumption of Mary Sunday
This past week, a very good priest friend of my from Berkeley, Cal. went home to God. His name was Fr. Mark O’Leary. Over the years, when I attended a “Summer Renewal Program” for clergy and religious in Berkeley, he lived in the Priory where I stayed. Over the years we became friends and so he became an important mentor in my journey of faith.
One day while the two of us were out walking the priory grounds, he asked me… “What gives you joy… ?” That question seemed to cut or perhaps sting me to the core. This elderly priest, who had lived life as a religious, worked in parishes, suffered greatly had nothing to loose on his part and everything for me to gain asked that poignant question: “what gives you joy?”
I thought about this question in light of Mary’s proclamation in today’s gospel. In fact, Mary, Elizabeth, and the baby (John the Baptist) that Elizabeth is carrying are filled with joy… the kind of Joy that can only come from God. This is real joy, it is the joy that rejoices… a joy that brings justice and peace. This joy is deep-rooted in us as a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work within us. It is more than our experience of pleasure, comfort, and delights of many kinds. And that is what Fr. Mark was getting at when he asked me, “what gives you joy?” What joy do I find in God?
And so we celebrate Mary’s complete and perfect joy today, it is good for us who are still our faith journey to remember that without joy, we cannot live life to it’s fullest. Joy is the mark of being alive and of progressing. The joy that pushes us onward. Joy is always in the process of going beyond its own boundaries. It is a summons and it challenges us. Joy anticipates further growth in our relationship with God, who alone makes it complete, perfect….
Today we celebrate Mary’s complete joy as she was taken body and soul into heaven is a cause of great hope to us. She is one of us and with us. In her, all God’s promises have been proved trustworthy. Now in heaven, Mary shows us that our hope is real: that we too, are directed to where Jesus is. “What gives us Joy… real joy that comes from God… the joy that lasts to the very end?” Let us open our hearts to God and look to Mary as we reflect to answer honestly this important question. Amen