The first reading from Revelation presents vivid images—
it helps if we try to see what it’s describing:
A sign in heaven: the ark of the covenant—a woman, with child!
But the scene does not stay peaceful: a huge, red dragon.
Note the dragon wears not one, but seven crowns.
This is a symbol of all that tries to rule us,
to displace Christ as the true king.
But this pretend king has power—don’t kid yourself:
he sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven—a third!
And it is poised to devour the Child.
Does it not often seem that evil is winning?
Do we not often fear that our hope will be devoured?
We wonder why God doesn’t win the way we think he should.
But God acts—and saves the Child,
and the Woman flees to the desert.
Of course this woman is Mary, the mother of the Messiah.
But Mary is always and in every way the perfect image
of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
So she is also an image of the Church—and so here:
it is us, the Church, that has to flee into the desert,
to wait for the Lord’s redemption.
So what does all this have to do with the Feast of the Assumption?
Today, we celebrate the completion
of Mary’s victorious journey in following Christ.
On this day, at the end of her natural life,
she was taken up to heaven.
How fitting this is—since she had united herself perfectly to her Son.
How fitting that the Son would reward his Mother,
who had given so much, suffered so much, in saying Yes to his plan.
It is a sign of hope that where she has gone, we may be sure to follow,
if we follow her example in following Christ.
We believe, as St. John Damascene said,
“It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity
inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free
from all corruption after death;
“It was necessary that she who had carried the Creator as a child
on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God.
“It was necessary that the bride espoused by the Father
should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven.
“It was necessary that she who had gazed on her crucified Son
and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow
which she had escaped in giving him birth,
should contemplate him seated with the Father.
“It was necessary that the Mother of God should share
the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature
as the Mother and handmaid of God.”
Finally, today, the words of Scripture are fulfilled, by us:
“All generations will call me blessed.”