Mary: Hylomorphic Model | Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (15 August 2017)

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption

Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56

Who in here considers themselves to be a “human person”?

Does the phrase “hylopmorphic compound” mean anything to you?

It should!

It is one of the ways that philosophers use to describe you,
to define a human person.

Strictly speaking, the philosophical doctrine of hylomorphism
means that physical objects result from the combination of both
matter and form
and that both of these are essential to a thing being what it is,
such that if you remove one or the other,
it ceases being what it is and becomes something else.

Human persons are hylomorphic compounds
because we are combination of matter and form.
Matter, of course, is our physical make-up,
like skin and legs and teeth and brains.
Form is harder to define, but basically it means that
our matter is in-formed, brought to life, by something
meta-physical, beyond matter.
That, of course, is our soul.

The Assumption of Mary is really a day to celebrate the fact
that we as human persons, created in the image and likeness of God,
are body and soul.
More properly,
we have a body, and we are a soul.
But both of these, together, form who we are.
And that, at the end of the day, God wants us to be with him…body and soul.

There are some heresies that try to divorce the body and soul;
some say that the body is icky and keeps our soul captive,
or that the body is nothing more than a nice ‘house’ for the soul on its earthly journey.

Some say there is no soul,
that the physical world is all that exists,
and insofar as you are alive on earth, you exist,
and when you die, your body decomposes and return to “prime matter”,
and thus no longer exists.

Both of these extremes, of course, are false.
The combination of body and soul, both emphasized, has tremendous implications
for the origin and destiny of all things.

Before the reformation in England during the 16th century,
August 15 was the feast of a local devotion, Our Lady in Harvest.
If you look across the street from the parish, you can have an idea of why.
In mid-to-late-August, the crops begin to reach their final stages of ripening,
some farmers have already begun some early harvesting.
The fullness of time is coming for the crops,
and indeed at her death (or, if you’re Greek, her “falling asleep”)
the fullness of time had come for Mary as well.

Remember that Mary is not God.
She’s God’s mom, but she’s not God.
She’s totally human, just like us.
In her perfection, she might seem to be a little divine, but she isn’t.
She is the first and perfect disciple.
She is the model disciple and today we celebrate the culmination
not just of her Christian vocation,
but of what our fulfillment can be also.

The odds of us being assumed into heaven are slim,
since even the best among us have committed sins with their bodies.
But Mary’s Assumption gives us a glimpse of the end toward which
we must all look with glad anticipation:
full union with God, the Holy Trinity, in Heaven,
with our souls and our bodies.

The Church teaches that in the fullness of time,
there will be a general resurrection of the dead.
That Jesus will call to all who have fallen asleep,
that the tombs will open, and that we will rise from them,
and that the just will live in perfect happiness and union
with him
IN THEIR GLORIFIED BODIES,
just as Jesus walked in the midst of his disciples after his own resurrection.

We are given a glimpse of this glorified Mary in the first reading,
when St. John tells of a great sign he sees in the sky,
of a beautiful lady
“clothed with sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

In the Gospel,
we hear Mary’s secret to sanctity
from her own mouth:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.”

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My spirit rejoices in God my savior.

Because of him, all generations will call me blessed:
holy is his name.

Offering everything to the Father,
Mary is giving God every ounce of praise she can muster.
He is not just the center of her life, or a priority in her life,
but she has become content with God being her very life.

Disciples make disciples. Mary is the perfect disciple.
Stay close to her, honor her, pray to her,
and give yourself to her.
Entrust all the details of your life to her;
she’s a mom, after all, dealing with difficult details is her forte.

Not because we think she’s God or even equal with God,
but because on this feast we see her closeness with God,
and the share that she has – body and soul – with Him forever.

Recently, I travelled through the Holy Land for 10 weeks.
When we arrived in Nazareth, we spent the first night
on the rooftop patio at the convent when a candlelight procession
began outside the Basilica of the Annunciation.
We could not see the procession, but for almost an hour
this mostly-Muslim town was filled with the soft singing
of pilgrims from every part of the world,
gathering in this little nowhere town
to magnify the Lord and to rejoice in God the Savior who became flesh in that place.

I remember thinking how truly amazing it is
that some 2000 years later from the night (or day?)
when an angel appeared to 15 year old virgin
there would still be people who gather to sin “Ave Maria” in her honor –
that really, all generations might call her blessed,
might recognize that the One who is mighty
has done great things for us, too,
and that, above all, his name remains holy
and strong, and trustworthy, and true.

This is our time and place to call Mary blessed.
This is our time to bring to the world the truth and life of
Mary’s Son, the man named Jesus,
who was conceived in Nazareth, born in Bethlehem,
lived and ministered in Galilee and Judea,
was crucified, died, and rose in Jerusalem.
He is the one who is holy,
he is the one whom our lives and hearts,
indeed our bodies and our souls,
must glorify and bless.

For He is the one who has come to save,
who has conquered death and forgiven sin
and who desires to bring us, as he brought Mary,
into the fullness of life with Him forever.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of death.

Mary – mother, friend, model disciple, and perfect witness, pray for us.