By: Jessie Bazan
Things are going to be radically different. The lowly lifted up? The rich sent away empty? In today’s Gospel reading for the Solemnity of the Assumption, we’re told of a new way of being. This is life where the hungry are fed and the poor are never left behind. This is life where mercy — not money — sustains. This is reality where social norms are broken and the world is better for it.
This reality is the kingdom of God.
It’s fitting that we learn about this radically different vision from a quite unconventional source. As a young, pregnant woman, Mary probably didn’t scream authority at first glance. She’s delivering the Magnificat while hanging out in the hill country with her cousin, for gosh sakes! Yet, it is Mary who speaks emphatically about the strength of the Lord. It is Mary who humbly shares about her role in salvation history. It is Mary who talks intimately about the mercy and compassion of God, whose strength and loyalty has no match. The visionary is radical. The vision, even more. And that’s good, because there’s still work to be done.
Mary’s insights offer great motivation for us today and every day. How are we promoting justice for all? In what ways do our actions magnify the Lord and further the work of his kingdom? Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Jessie Bazan is a Master of Divinity candidate at Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary and serves as the Seeing the Word graduate assistant.
Magnificat, Sally Mae Joseph, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
“Garden of Desire” (Song of Solomon 4:12-5:8)
“I am faint with love” (5:8). When I gaze upon this illumination, my heart feels full. I have the strongest desire to enter into the garden and to search, as the passage says, for “him whom my soul loves”. The beauty of this image is in that invitation to enter and search. The colors are so gentle and the pattern so intricate. I feel embraced and warmed by the gated garden. “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes” (4:9). When I glance upon this image with my eyes, my heart does, indeed, feel ravished.
I feel drawn in, not only to the garden, but to the search for Wisdom. While the beauty of the image is so very moving, there is still an incompleteness to it. The garden has only two gates, it is unfinished. It is closed off. Pieces are strewn about the page in a kind of disordered fashion. “Listen! My beloved is knocking. Open to me, my sister, my love…I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and was gone” (5:2, 6). The love that is so beautiful in this illumination is also not yet perfect. That scatteredness, as Susan Sink points out, represents our disconnection from God. The pieces appear to be pieces that would all fit together, and if they could unite we would be complete and one with the Divine.
The connection to seeking out God as the one whom we most desire is simple. But, how do we as human beings begin to know and understand love? Is our first feeling of love for God? I, like many people, first came to know what love is by the unconditional love of my own parents. It is through them that I started to understand what God’s love must be like. As I grew and understood other forms of love, my awe for God’s love also grew. As my knowledge of God and God’s love for me has deepened, my own ability to love others and know what selfless love is has also developed. I love because God loved me first.
Through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we get a glimpse of what God’s perfect love for us looks like. It is only through the awe-inspiring love of God for us that we are able to love others. As this passage and illumination show us, Wisdom is the key to unlock the garden and to find who our soul loves. Wisdom is how we seek God and it is how we are brought to communion with our God, our lover. Even more so now with the resurrected and living God among us, who has shown us unimaginable love, we know that seeking God and uniting our soul with our Divine Creator will be greater than anything we could ever know.
Sandy is a 2013 graduate from St. John’s School of Theology-Seminary with a Master of Pastoral Ministry. She is currently the Director of Missions for Moto Hope Missions. Sandy has over 30 years of experience in Catholic education and ministry.
Road to Emmaus
Timothy is a native of Old Mines, MO. After completing a degree in music education at Quincy University, he spent three years as a Canon of the Order of Prémontré (Norbertines) in De Pere, WI. During and after his time in religious life, Timothy spent three years teaching religion. He completed an MA in Liturgical Studies at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN. Timothy served as the Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Currently, Timothy is the Director of Liturgical Programs at Marquette University.
How to Use the Discipleship Curriculum
Sower and the Seed
Anne Kaese has been studying and working in calligraphy for over 30 years. Anne enjoys teaching calligraphy and watercolor and continues to be active in public education on the St John’s Bible.
She reflects on the Illumination “Sower and the Seed” from Mark 4:3-9 and the discipleship practice of “follower”.