Pope's Homily on Feast of the Assumption
"In Her Face We Can Truly Perceive the Divine Light"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered on Aug. 15, during the Mass on the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castel Gandolfo.
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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Magnificat, the great hymn of Our Lady that we have just heard in the Gospel, we find some surprising words. Mary says: "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed."
The Mother of the Lord prophesies the Marian praises of the Church for all of the future, the Marian devotion of the people of God until the end of time.
In praising Mary, the Church did not invent something "adjacent" to Scripture: She responded to this prophecy which Mary made at that moment of grace.
And Mary's words were not only personal, perhaps arbitrary words. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit as St. Luke said, exclaimed with a loud cry: "Blessed is she who believed." And Mary, also filled with the Holy Spirit, continues and completes what Elizabeth said, affirming: "All generations will call me blessed."
It is a real prophecy, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and in venerating Mary, the Church responds to a command of the Holy Spirit; she does what she has to do.
We do not praise God sufficiently by keeping silent about his saints, especially Mary, "the holy one" who became his dwelling place on earth.
The simple and multiform light of God appears to us exactly in its variety and richness only in the countenance of the saints, who are the true mirrors of his light.
And it is precisely by looking at Mary's face that we can see more clearly than in any other way the beauty, goodness and mercy of God. In her face we can truly perceive the divine light.
"All generations will call me blessed." We can praise Mary, we can venerate Mary for she is "blessed," she is blessed for ever. And this is the subject of this feast. She is blessed because she is united to God, she lives with God and in God.
On the eve of his passion, taking leave of his disciples, the Lord said: "In my Father's house are many rooms ... I go to prepare a place for you."
By saying, "I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word," Mary prepared God's dwelling here on earth; with her body and soul, she became his dwelling place and thereby opened the earth to heaven.
In the Gospel we have just heard, St. Luke, with various allusions, makes us understand that Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant, that the mystery of the temple -- God's dwelling place here on earth -- is fulfilled in Mary. God, who became present here on earth, truly dwells in Mary. Mary becomes his tent. What all the cultures desire -- that God dwells among us -- is brought about here.
St. Augustine says: "Before conceiving the Lord in her body she had already conceived him in her soul." She had made room for the Lord in her soul and thus really became the true temple where God made himself incarnate, where he became present on this earth.
Thus, being God's dwelling place on earth, in her the eternal dwelling place has already been prepared; it has already been prepared for forever. And this constitutes the whole content of the dogma of the assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heavenly glory, expressed here in these words. Mary is "blessed" because -- totally, in body and soul and forever -- she became the Lord's dwelling place.
If this is true, Mary does not merely invite our admiration and veneration, but she guides us, shows us the way of life, shows us how we can become blessed, how to find the path of happiness.
Let us listen once again to Elizabeth's words fulfilled in Mary's Magnificat: "Blessed is she who believed." The first and fundamental act in order to become a dwelling place of God and thus find definitive happiness is to believe: It is faith, faith in God, in that God who showed himself in Jesus Christ and makes himself heard in the divine word of holy Scripture.
Believing is not adding an opinion to others. And the conviction, the belief that God exists, is not information like any other. Regarding most information, it makes no difference to us whether it is true or false; it does not change our lives. But if God does not exist, life is empty, the future is empty. And if God exists, everything changes, life is light, our future is light and we have guidance for how to live. Therefore, believing constitutes the fundamental orientation of our life.
To believe, to say: "Yes, I believe that you are God, I believe that you are present among us in the incarnate Son," gives my life a direction, impels me to be ...
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