Mary and the spirituality of accompaniment

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.”

Aug 13, 2021

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Readings: Revelation 11:9a, 12:1-6a, 10ab;
1 Corinthian 15:20-26;
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.” – Luke 1: 46 - 47

The opening lines of Mary’s Magnificat in today’s Gospel are not a proclamation of self-exaltation, but a declaration which acknowledges the presence of God in every facet of her life. The context in which this Magnificat is spoken is significant. It is made in the context of the visitation. Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth to accompany her during her pregnancy. The key to this is accompaniment. It’s about being with someone, going along on the journey. Their encounter is one of pure joy.

“Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” (Luke 1: 41 – 44)

This encounter leads to an accompaniment of some three months with Elizabeth.The spirituality of accompaniment is about an awareness of the abiding presence of someone in our life. Accompaniment brings comfort, assurance that one is not alone and need not go it alone. This is what is so needed in this time of pandemic. We need to be assured of the comforting presence of God. There is nothing worse than the feeling that one is deserted, abandoned to the onslaught of the demands of everyday life, i.e., mouths to feed, payments to be made on the house, loans to service, bills to pay, utility bills and charges which have to be settled.

Elizabeth’s joyful elation indicates that she too is aware of Mary’s condition:

She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 42 – 45) Mary’s Magnificat is therefore a reply which reveals the divine accompaniment of God, of the ever-abiding presence of God in her life.

‘My soul proclaims
the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon
his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward
all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty
has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age
for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their
thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things,
the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel
his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise
he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his
descendants for ever.’ (Luke 1: 46 – 55)

In her Assumption, the fullness of grace that Mary carried from her very first moment has now reached its plenitude. In the glory of the divine presence, she is now, forever, who God always intended her to be.

In her Assumption, Mary does not only stand in the presence of her Son but again, as at Pentecost, she is found at the centre of the Church. So, too, her Assumption seals her solidarity with us. Yet Mary never loses her unique maternal mission to help us all find our way to her Son. She belongs to the whole Church in every age. She is rooted in history but, by God’s grace, not bound by it. Now all generations can lay claim to her maternal help. Wherever we are on that journey, the feast of the Assumption gives us a vision of the home that awaits us, and the promise that is, and will be, fulfilled. Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, assures us that the journey is worth making and that none of us travel alone. 

--Fr Gregory Chan is the parish priest of the Church of the Assumption, Petaling Jaya.

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