Charles Lancelot ’62

This gospel doesn’t seem at first to address the feast being celebrated—the Assumption of our Blessed Mother into heaven. It is instead all about Mary’s visit to tend to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, immediately preceded by Luke’s companion narrative of the Annunciation to Mary.

But if we look at Mary’s Assumption as the rear bookend of a life of unwavering service to God and to her neighbors, today’s gospel coupled with the Annunciation would comprise the front bookend. In fact, with a prequel Immaculate Conception and two additional cherry-picked decades they form a five-volume narrative rosary of Mary’s life that I go over each day while I’m out running. A flowing discourse between Mary and God fills these five volumes, together with an all-too-often discouraging comparison between what our Blessed Mother consistently did and how we handle our daily struggle to act as she did in each scenario.

It comes down to a single word, Mary’s virtual motto at every step of the way. It is a word that is so hard, almost impossible at times, for us to say to God whenever we’re morally, ethically, and spiritually challenged: “Yes!”

From the moment that Elizabeth proclaimed Mary blessed for her belief that all that the Lord had spoken to her would be fulfilled to the time that she was taken up to heaven after having said “yes” at every turn, Mary fulfilled what was spoken about her. In today’s pivotal Magnificat, she willingly accepts her charge as someone who would show us a clear roadmap of how to stay close to God and how to avoid those pitfalls that would separate us. As she would later say to the servers in Cana about her son, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Of course we know that this simple counsel is anything but! Yet we must remember that our heavenly mother is always there, reinforcing our efforts to heed it. We just need to keep asking for her intercession, especially in our ongoing struggles to say “yes” and to change those behaviors that separate us from God.