.- Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on Aug. 15, saying that the celebration gives Christians hope of a future united with Christ, both in this life and in heaven.
“This feast,” he said, “tells us that we too will be with Jesus in the joy of God and invites us to have courage, to believe that the power of the Resurrection of Christ can work in us as well.”
From his summer residence at Castel Gandalfo, just south of Rome, the Pope celebrated Mass in the morning on Monday and later led the Angelus prayer at noon.
He remarked during his homily that the feast day serves to inspire the faithful to evangelize modern society and helps “make us men and women who every day try to live as resurrected, carrying the light of goodness into the darkness of evil in the world.”
He also reflected on the daily reading from the Gospel of Luke, where the Blessed Mother travels to visit her cousin St. Elizabeth, who is overjoyed that the “mother of her Lord” would come to her.
“Mary comes into the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, but does not enter alone. She enters carrying in her womb the child in which God himself became man.”
The Pope said that the evangelist Luke highlights the significance of Elizabeth, her husband Zechariah and the baby in her womb, John the Baptist, waiting for Mary's arrival.
“Zechariah and Elizabeth and the infant John the Baptist are, in fact, the symbol of all the righteous of Israel, whose heart, full of hope, awaits the coming of the Messiah,” he said.
Pope Benedict observed that the Holy Spirit then opens the eyes of St. Elizabeth to recognize that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant since she carries the Son of God within her very self.
When Elizabeth exclaims, “look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy,” St. Luke uses the term “skirtan” which translates to “bounce.”
This, the Pope explained, is the same term used to describe the holy dance of King David in front of the Ark of the Covenant when it was returned to Israel in the Old Testament book of Second Samuel.
“John the Baptist in the womb is dancing before the ark, like David,” he said. “Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, before which the heart leaps for joy at the Mother of God in the world.”
Men and women today, the Pope said, are also the recipients of God's love and must do as Mary did – accept Christ in faith, be enlightened and guided by his word and follow him every day.
Before praying the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict observed that the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated by Christians of both the Eastern and Western Church and that the dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed in 1950.
After the prayer, he greeted those gathered at Castel Gandolfo in several languages, including English.
“May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith,” he told pilgrims, “that we too may attain the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfillment of our hope in her Son’s promises.”