A statue of Our Lady of Consolation stands in the sanctuary of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, Aug. 14, 2019. CNS photo/Katie Rutter

God's Word on Sunday: Battle continues to overcome darkness

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  • August 8, 2021

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Aug. 15 (Year B) Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a; 10ab; Psalm 45; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56

Revelation is the most puzzling and enigmatic book in the entire Bible.

Its symbols have tantalized interpreters for 2,000 years. Even with all of the best scholarship we can muster, there always remains a nagging feeling that we are missing something. Often the interpretations say more about the interpreters than the actual text.

The early Church believed the woman clothed with the sun referred to Mary, the mother of Jesus. And that is a reasonable interpretation, for it mirrors her struggle to give birth to Jesus and to protect Him from the machinations of evil powers intent on destroying Him. The many-horned monster in the story is found in much of the apocalyptic literature of this period and it usually symbolizes earthly powers opposed to God.

But we should also be aware of other layers of meaning in the text. There are many ancient near eastern accounts of gods waging cosmic battles against mythical beasts and monsters, and this is certainly echoed in the text.

On yet another level, the battle portrays the inner struggle of believers. As the Christ struggles to be born in us, there are many forces bent on seeing that it doesn’t happen. Some of these forces come from within us — fear, negative attitudes and behavioural patterns, and the temptations of things that draw us away from God. Add to that the opposing forces present in our culture and we have inner warfare indeed.

We can take these three possibilities together — there is no need to select one and reject the others. Since the beginning of recorded history, the light has attempted to overcome the darkness and transform the world. We find it in ancient myths and legends as well as in the pages of Sacred Scripture. God has been at work unceasingly on our behalf.

Salvation history reached a climax in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and that was made possible by Mary, the woman clothed with the sun. The struggle persists in our lives as we endeavour to bring the light deeper into our minds and hearts. The battle continues and God never gives up. Neither should we.

Many of the early Christians wondered why Jesus had not returned and why things seemed to have remained the same. Paul explained that redemption was a process; the end-times began when Jesus rose from the dead, but much work remained to be done. Jesus had to systematically overcome all the powers that were opposed to God. The last one, the most powerful, was death itself. Then and only then could Jesus return a subdued and restored world to God the Father. In this “in between time,” we need to be patient, but we also need to take part by our efforts to manifest the light to the world through our lives.

Mary was not weak or naive. She was strong, focused and aware of what was going on around her. Her Magnificat reveals much about Mary and her understanding of God.

She was about to give birth to Jesus and she recognized that the world would never be the same. Mary praised God because He had scattered the proud and pulled the mighty down from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

Mary was profoundly grateful for being asked to play such an important role and offered heartfelt praise for the mercy and kindness of God. Later she would realize that this great event would also bring her struggle and sorrow.

Mary was chosen to play this vital role in God’s plan for humanity because she was in harmony with the divine mind and heart and was willing to be the channel through which God would send the Savior into the world.

She also presents us with a challenge and a model: We will be instruments and channels of God’s grace, mercy and light to the extent that our minds and hearts are in harmony with God.

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