|Ethiopian Mother of God|
MARY'S FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION CELEBRATES that we are called to community - even beyond this world's relationships, to a heavenly community. This icon, with its eye-animated saints packed in and around Mary and her Boy-Child, suggests this happy, heavenly friendship.
In her Assumption, Mary is completed as the one who consistently took up her role in creating community around the Lord. She visited Elizabeth and Zechariah at the start of their pregnancies. She made the Passover pilgrimages to Jerusalem. She was mindful of the dilemma the newlyweds faced at Cana. She struggled with her friends beneath the cross of Jesus. She prayed with the disciples in the upper room. Christians create, restore and strengthen community where they go.
When Catholic Haitians first started immigrating to the United States, they were aghast to discover that as soon as Sunday Mass was over (or even right after Communion), the church parking lot was emptied and the next crowd came in. There was no lingering, no sharing, no gathering of friendship. In Haiti, Sunday Mass overflows into hours of being with each other.
When I would ask young Americans being interviewed before Confirmation why they don't go to Mass on Sunday, they would answer, "My family is too busy." Indeed, too busy. But the community suffers for the busy-ness. Did this begin when stores started staying open on Sundays in the 1970's, which meant that some people had to go to work, which meant that the fundamental Christian community of the family was disrupted and fractured?
Perhaps, in anticipation of the Assumption feast we might find some small way of extending community. There's one Sunday between now and Mary's Feast Day. Might we could restore the old-fashioned idea of Sunday dinner, even to the inviting of a guest or two. Some of the younger people who are reading this post might have no idea what I'm talking about: Sunday dinner, stores closed on Sunday. Ask someone older than 50. Having each other makes all the difference in the world.