SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 15 August 2021
Dear brothers and sisters, Buongiorno and happy feast day!
In today’s Gospel, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, the Magnificat resounds in the liturgy. This hymn of praise is like a “photograph” of the Mother of God. Mary “rejoices in God because he has looked on the humility of his handmaid” (cf Lk 1:47-48).
Mary’s secret is humility. It is her humility that attracted God’s gaze to her. The human eye always looks for grandeur and allows itself to be dazzled by what is flashy. Instead, God does not look at the appearance. God looks at the heart (cf 1 Sam 16:7) and is enchanted by humility. Humility of heart enchants God. Today, looking at Mary assumed into heaven, we can say that humility is the way that leads to Heaven. The word “humility” comes from the Latin word humus, which means “earth”. It is paradoxical: to arrive on high, into Heaven, what is needed is to stay low, like the earth! Jesus teaches this: “he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11). God does not exalt us because of our gifts, because of our wealth or because of our skills, but because of humility. God loves humility. God lifts up those who humble themselves; he lifts up those who serve. Mary, in fact, attributes no other “title” except servant to herself: she is, “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). She says nothing else about herself, she seeks nothing else for herself.
Today, then, let us ask ourselves, each one of us in our heart: how am I doing with humility? Do I seek to be recognized by others, to affirm myself and to be praised, or do I think rather about serving? Do I know how to listen, like Mary, or do I want only to speak and receive attention? Do I know how to keep silence, like Mary, or am I always chattering? Do I know how to take a step back, defuse quarrels and arguments, or do I always want to stand out? Let us think about these questions: how am I doing with humility?
In her littleness, Mary wins Heaven first. The secret of her success is precisely that she recognizes her lowliness, that she recognizes her need. With God, only those who recognize themselves as nothing can receive the all. Only those who empty themselves can be filled by him. And Mary is the “full of grace” (v. 28) precisely because of her humility. For us too, humility is always the point of departure, the beginning of our having faith. It is fundamental to be poor in spirit, that is, in need of God. Those who are filled with themselves have no space for God — and we are often full of ourselves — but those who remain humble allow the Lord to accomplish great things (cf v. 49).
The poet Dante calls the Virgin Mary, “humbler and loftier than any creature” (Paradise, XXXIII, 2). It is beautiful to think that the humblest and loftiest creature in history, the first to win heaven with her entire being, in soul and body, lived out her life for the most part within the domestic walls, in the ordinary, in humility. The days of the Full of Grace were not all that striking. They followed one another, often exactly the same, in silence: externally, nothing extraordinary. But God’s gaze was always upon her, admiring her humility, her availability, the beauty of her heart never stained by sin.
It is a huge message of hope for each of us, for you whose days are always the same, tiring and often difficult. Mary reminds you today that God calls you too to this glorious destiny. These are not beautiful words: it is the truth. It is not a well-crafted, beautiful ending, a pious illusion or a false consolation. No, it is pure reality, living and true as Our Lady assumed into Heaven. Let us celebrate her today with the love of children, let us celebrate her joyfully but humbly, enlivened by the hope of one day being with her in Heaven!
And let us pray to her now that she may accompany us on our journey that leads from Earth to Heaven. May she remind us that the secret to the journey is contained in the word humility. Let us not forget this word, and that lowliness and service are the secrets for obtaining the goal, of reaching heaven.