Today is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, proclaimed a dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XII in 1950. But this belief was handed down to us from the Apostles. There are feasts celebrating Mary's Assumption from the 500s AD. You can read more about it here.
Today's Gospel reading is about the Visitation. Mary, having just said yes to God's plan for her to become the mother of his Son, goes to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant with St. John the Baptist. When I would think about this event, I would always think, "Oh, how nice, Mary found out Elizabeth is having a baby and goes to visit her and help out a while. Isn't she great?" Then, I read something (I wish I could remember where) that said, Mary goes to see Elizabeth (yes, to help) but also because the angel's message and the full weight of what was to happen to her were maybe becoming really REAL all of a sudden and who else could identify with what had happened to Mary but another woman who was also miraculously pregnant? Elizabeth GETS it. Mary can talk to her. Elizabeth can give her guidance and comfort in a way that no other woman can. Mary's faith is never shaken. Her trust is unwavering. But what was happening to her was probably overwhelming.
She is a human being (born without original sin and all that comes with it, including this), but she answers yes to every command given to her by God. Yes, she will be the mother of his Son. Yes, she will take Him with Joseph to Egypt. Yes, she will travel with Him in his public ministry. Yes, she will endure seeing him suffer on the cross. Yes, she will accept all of us as her children, too ("Mother, behold your son...."). Yes, she will serve the Apostles (She was in the Upper Room at Pentecost). She doesn't question God's power, she accepts His will as her own. This is one of the many reasons why the Church holds Mary up to us.
God's will for us is perfect. He doesn't promise that if we do His will that it will be easy. Mary's life shows us that, too. But His plan for our lives is better than what we could try to dream for ourselves. All He asks of us, requires of us, is humble submission to him. Mary models that for us.
In the Assumption, we also see what God has ready for us when he restores His heavenly kingdom to the Earth at the end of time: our souls and our bodies will reunite and we will live as He intended us to live when He made us. How much we have to look forward to!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.