When Mary just shows up
It’s the middle of August. Summer is quickly coming to an end. Our calendars are busy with back-to-school shopping, sports practices beginning again, moving children to college, and enjoying the last days of relaxation before everything picks up in the fall.
In the chaos of life, Mary shows up on the Church’s liturgical calendar, and the Church in her wisdom, obliges us to attend Mass on this special holy day. For some, the holy day might have been on your radar for a few weeks while for others a reminder at Sunday Mass or from your family prompts your attendance. We can say that Mary simply shows up in our life today as we celebrate her assumption into heaven.
In my experience, Mary has a tendency to show up in our lives at times when we least expect. The readings for the Assumption point to this reality. In the first reading from the Book of Revelation, we hear about the woman crowned with stars waging war against the dragon. The Book of Revelation recounts John’s vision of heaven. And in all that he saw and wrote, Mary shows up, that is, if we grant that the woman of Revelation 12 is Mary. Some scholars suggest other possibilities, but as we read it within the context of the Assumption, our minds cannot help but think that it is Mary.
In the Gospel, Mary shows up at the home of Elizabeth. After she received the angelic visitation and learned about the workings of God not only in her life, but also in the life of her aged cousin Elizabeth, Mary goes in haste and shows up at her home. Elizabeth wasn’t expecting her visit, but she joyfully receives her, calling her blessed among women.
Elsewhere in the Gospel it is true, as well. Mary shows up at the wedding feast of Cana (see John 2:1–12). Yes, she was invited, but her presence there commences Jesus’ public ministry by pointing out the simple fact there was no more wine. Because she showed up and spoke to her son, the couple was spared embarrassment. Mary showed up at the foot of the cross, too. Every other apostle, save one abandoned Jesus at the cross. Mary remained faithful with John. And because she showed up, Jesus spoke those words which echo within the Church today, “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27).
Mary has shown up in the lives of countless people throughout the centuries. One group of people include visionaries, who went about the happenings of their ordinary day, only to be granted a vision of Mary, which changed their lives forever. She shows up in those places to bring a message to the world.
Because Mary shows up in these places, she changes the course of history, bringing an end to war and communism. Mary showed up in the life of St. John Paul II on May 13, 1981, when an assassin attempted to kill the Holy Father. Mary showed up, and as he often would say, guided the bullet, and spared his life.
Mary has a habit of just showing up in our lives. When I’m driving down the country roads in rural Wisconsin, and looking at the homes I pass by, I often see a statue of Mary, reminding me that she is my mother, she loves me as her child, and consistently prays for me.
The presence of Mary in our life, through the celebration of the Assumption, is a reminder to us that Mary shows up in our lives. Because she was taken by her son, body and soul into heaven, Mary now can have a more complete love and care for the Church. When she lived her life with the early Church, she could only love those who were proximately close to her. But now, because she is assumed into heaven, she loves all the children of the world with a motherly love. We can ask her to pray for us at a moment’s notice, and she will show up and offer her prayers to God for us.
In your own life, be attentive to the moments when Mary shows up, through the gift of an answered prayer, or in the unexpected moment when you need a reminder of God’s love. Stay devoted to her, and we can hold fast to our belief she will show up at our death, and her prayers will assist us on our journey to that kingdom, where she lives with her Son, Our Lord and savior.