Dear brothers and sisters,
The Gospel passage we have read at today's feast presents the meeting of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth. A reading from the book of Revelation presents a conflict between a woman "whose dress was the sun" and a huge red dragon.
Thus, on the one hand, the word of God speaks about the conflict, and on the other hand, it introduces us to the encounter. What does this double symbolism, encounter and conflict, want to convey?
Conflict is about bad intentions, about hostile aggression against each other. At an encounter, however, I can step into someone else's house as a visitor, and they receive me in all sincerity.
Meeting the other also means that first I "step outside myself", my world, in which we are all so often trapped. We need to step outside of those plans that we have made for ourselves. We need to outgrow our notions of the other. Meeting also means setting out on a journey, being able to take your time and look at the other with God's, and not just with your human eyes.
How many dragons lurk on each of us today! Unfortunately, those who sow evil usually want first to undermine and destroy mutual trust within a community.
In the next step, they want to bring uncertainty into our lives by wanting to blur the purpose and meaning of our life and mission, ultimately based on faith and trust in God. A conflict is the opposite of an encounter and always aims to destroy something. Unfortunately, we witness scenes of conflict every day when mistrust, hatred, and division are sown among us.
However, it is also interesting that there are children in today's festive word of God in both cases when both an encounter and a conflict are presented in the reading and the Gospel. Mary is on her way to a relative, who is also expecting a child, to support her. Thus, not only does the encounter of two future mothers take place, but also the encounter of two children, as the Gospel says, "the baby moved within her."
On the other hand, in the book of Revelation, a dragon full of rage and hatred appears as one who wants to devour a child born to a woman.
The book of Revelation does not only have in mind Jesus of Nazareth and his mother Mary but there is much more to this symbolism. It is about the Kingdom of God and the Church that gives birth to God's children after baptism. Both the Son of God and the Kingdom of God have been and will always be a sign of opposition, as the old man, Simeon, announced to Mary (cf. Lk 2: 34-35).
There are two other protagonists in these two passages: In the Gospel of Luke is the Spirit of God with which the relative Elizabeth was filled. The Holy Spirit is the one in whose power the child moved in Elizabeth's body, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary sings a hymn.
In contrast, in the book of Revelation, there is another spirit that works. It is the spirit that, through the serpent, tricked Adam and Eve into looking at God as a rival who wants to take something from them. The result, however, is their distrust and alienation from God.
Day after day, each of us is placed in a situation where it is necessary to decide whether to follow the path of encounter or conflict. In other words, either we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, or we succumb to the influences of the evil spirit.
Life therefore always puts us in front of a choice: Either to choose the path that leads me to an encounter, the path to others, or the path where I put myself and my interests in the foreground, which gives birth to competition, exclusion and distance among us.
Pope Francis strongly emphasizes the vital role of a culture of encounter and the pursuit of the common good. A culture of encounter can contribute to building a world that will be more just and reconciled within itself, where everyone will be accepted and respected.
The time we spend in our homeland and worldwide is also marked by fear and insecurity due to the Covid-19 virus. Fear and insecurity, along with the virus, spread in waves, and all of this threaten us.
If we want to limit the virus and defeat it, we will have to learn what it means to know how to stand together. Together, we will have to listen to the experts and not to those who sow distrust and only look for political points.
Concern for one's health and the health of all of us must come to the fore. I know there are concerns about vaccination. I had them myself at the beginning, but in the end, one finds that protecting public health is the best way to show the love of neighbour. That is why Pope Francis says that vaccination is "an ethical act, because your health, your life, as well as the lives of others are at stake."
In the encyclical "Fratelli tutti" (All Brothers), in Chapter 7, Pope Francis speaks of the "Paths of Renewed Encounter", emphasizing that peace is linked to truth, justice and mercy.
Peace is far from any desire for revenge. On the contrary, whoever strives for peace will strive to develop a society based on service to others and the pursuit of reconciliation and mutual development (Nos. 227-229).
In our daily lives, we may sometimes feel that our efforts to do good are not worth it in the end because we do not see the effects. Maybe someone thinks that the effort a person makes in this direction is just like a drop in the ocean, and they do not have much of an impact to turn things around for the better.
Nothing takes away so much courage as the fear that his endeavour is in vain, that it is thrown away, that his effort is meaningless and unnecessary and that in the end, there is no real fruit of his endeavour, and therefore his future is uncertain.
However, this is just a temptation that we must not succumb to. Everything that is done with good intentions, even if the media and public opinion do not talk about it, has a lasting effect in itself and is by no means lost.
In this, we have an example of Mary, the Mother of God, and her firm faith and trust. All her life, she struggled to respond to God's invitation and fulfil God's will. All her life, she was close to her Son and lived for God. Her faith did not falter even in trials. On the contrary, in the difficult moments of her life, Mary believed, hoped and loved even more.
It was because of this tremendous and unshakable trust that she was also taken to God. By glorifying her and her Assumption, God has shown us all where our lives lead and has given us the assurance that our lives have a clear goal and thus a final meaning.
Therefore, if we combine them with God, as Mary did, all our efforts for good, beautiful, and noble will not fade into nothingness. All this will attain confirmation and glorification in heaven.
Today's Feast of the Assumption of Mary, therefore, encourages us to make a firm decision for the logic of encounter, giving birth to more trust and more unity between us and genuine joy and hope.
Every day we are faced with a choice. It is necessary to make decisions and choices. Internal freedom is the basis for the right choices, which means inner detachment and not being trapped in preconceived opinions.
God is always active through the Holy Spirit and, like the Virgin Mary once, invites us day by day to deepen our cooperation with him. To work with him and to do God's will is our happiness. It is the most beautiful realization of life for each of us.
A beautiful image for our lives is a journey of a pilgrim, a man who is on a journey. Although we may sometimes experience as if the path of our lives has no real meaning, today's holiday tells us that we are pilgrims.
Unlike the man who wanders here and there, a pilgrim always has a clear goal in front of him. So even today's feast tells us: in God's eyes, nothing is lost, nothing is thrown away, everything is accepted, exalted, and placed in God's hands.
Today's feast of the Assumption of Mary seeks to strengthen and revitalize this faith and trust in us.
Mary accompanies each of us to unite further with her Son, leads us to the Father to be firmly joined with Him, for all that is joined with God is saved, is eternal, as God is eternal! Amen.
Msgr Alojzij Cvikl DJ,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Maribor