The Solemnity of the Assumption. Today we celebrate an event in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Savior. This is the day that we remember her “falling asleep” – or what is called in the Eastern Churches – her “dormition.” On that day her physical life in this world ended. And in a glorious work of God that foreshadows the resurrection, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. It is a great mystery for us and a marvelous sign of hope.
Today we also ponder a declaration that the scriptures make about this event. A declaration of spiritual war. The book of Revelation talks about this. The huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, symbolizing Satan, the fallen angels, and their followers. And scripture describes the dragon as having “stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.”
And so we remember how Satan worked through King Herod, who sought to put to death the newborn King of the Jews. He sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to find the male infants and toddlers and put them to death. But Joseph, warned in a dream, took Mary and Jesus and escaped to Egypt. They were kept safe in God’s hiding place.
The huge red dragon has been making war on the Woman – Mary – since the beginning. Indeed, in the book of Genesis, this war was foretold. So the red dragon – Satan himself – has worked through the kingdoms of this world to persecute all of the children of Mary – all those who follow Jesus.
Satan worked through evil leaders in Jerusalem to put Jesus to death on the cross and to persecute his disciples. Satan worked through the evil emperors in Rome to persecute the early Christians. Down through the ages people have suffered in this ongoing spiritual battle.
In the 20th century we remember the war of the dragon on the children of Mary through the Nazi holocaust, the horrific persecutions of Christians in the Communist Bloc Countries. And then the war on the most innocent unfolded through the introduction of the holocaust of abortion.
Today the Red Dragon pursues the children of Mary in Iraq. We have watched this brutal and horrific persecution unfold before our very eyes. Heaven and earth weeps over this tragedy.
But heaven does not remain silent. A declaration of war is issued in the gospel of Luke.
Mary sings of this in her great canticle from the gospel of Luke. God shows the strength of his arm. He scatters the proud. He casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. He comes to our help for he remembers his promise of mercy.
Indeed, while the devil rages for a time, it is only so that God, through his chosen instrument – Mary – will have the final victory over Satan and his followers. Mary, the humble virgin from Nazareth, is the one whose Immaculate Heart will triumph by crushing the head of the dragon.
Each day we draw closer to the threshold of that final battle. The great storm, the time of times, is just over the horizon. And each day, as this spiritual battle intensifies in our own time we are reminded to be like Mary, the lowly and humble one.
Mary’s example calls each of us to have an unshakeable trust in Jesus. She shows us how to be a persistent sign of hope. To be a witness to the joy that comes from the knowledge that the Lord already has the victory over our ancient foe.
And so, as a people who wait in joyful hope, we declare God’s victory with Mary:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!