A couple of years ago, I went to visit the Holy Land with some of my classmates from the seminary. One day we went to visit the place Mary went to visit Elizabeth. The same place where Elizabeth welcomed Mary with joy, the same place where Mary sang her great hymn praising the Lord. What was surprising to me was how high up her house would have been. There I think a couple of hundred steps you had to climb up to visit the Church. Secondly, Mary would have traveled a great distance to get there. I believe the bus trip would have taken at least 90 minutes to go from Nazareth, her home town to near Jerusalem where Elizabeth lived. Then once she arrived, she would have to hike up a steep hill to reach Elizabeth’s house.
What we see in the blessed virgin’s journey is similar to the journey that we take in our own lives. Now we don’t hike for many miles, but our journeys with the Lord is a pilgrimage. We walk with the Lord, and we follow his footsteps as we seek to know him. What we find in Mary is not only someone who has already gone the way before, but she followed our Lord perfectly, and now she is in heaven with him.
We celebrate today the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We Celebrate the fact that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven, and we believe that Mary was saved from the tomb and brought into heaven to be by her son. Not only was she brought into heaven, but she was also taken body and soul into heaven.
Mary did what we all hope to do when Jesus comes again. We, as a Church, believe that all of us will be resurrected from the dead. Not just to be present with Jesus in heaven, but Jesus will restore our bodies and take them into heaven with him. Mary’s assumption points to what awaits all of us when Jesus comes again and calls everything to himself.
However, I believe we can look to Mary for more than just a sign of our salvation that is to come. We too, can look at Mary’s life and see it as a life worthy of imitation. Mary was the first disciple of our Lord, the first one to follow in his footsteps. We are all disciples of our Lord, and we are called to follow him. Who better to seek as our example and guide than Mary herself.
What can Mary show us in our lives of faith? Her hymn of praise that we just heard in the Gospel is a good example to us of the life we are called to live. First of all, Mary is a great example of humility. She recognizes that it is not because of anything that she did that she blessed among women; rather, it is because “he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” Then she praises God who lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry with good things. She realizes that it is those who are poor, who are needy that God lifts up. Not those who are proud nor are on mighty thrones. We may not be poor or struggle to find the food that we need to eat. We can be spiritually poor and hungry in our lives, and if we go to God with those needs, he will lift us and provide for us. All of us are poor in some way and need God’s help. If we can be like Mary, God will look on our lowliness and lift us.
One simple way we can strive to be more like Mary is to ask for her intercession and ask God to help us become more like her. Maybe something we can do the next time when we pray the rosary is to ask for the grace to be more like Mary in our lives. Think about the prayer we say after the rosary. “as we meditate on these mysteries of the most holy rosary may we imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.” When we pray this prayer, we are asking that we imitate what they contain. Part of that is imitating the humility and simplicity of Mary.
As we continue our journey’s in this life may we seek to be more like our blessed lady. We all our own the pilgrimage of life and we can learn a lot from Mary who went on this pilgrimage before us.