‘‘My spirit exults in God my saviour’’

The Assumption of our Lady

The reading for the Feast of the Assumption demonstrates with what faith and generosity Mary answered God’s call. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Luke 1:39-56

39 Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. 40 She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? 44 For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

46 And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord 47 and my spirit exults in God my saviour; 48 because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, 50 and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. 51 He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart. 52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. 53 The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away. 54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy 55 –according to the promise he made to our ancestors – of his mercy to Abraham and his descendants for ever.’ 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

Other readings: Apocalypse 11:19 12:1-6,10 Psalm 44 (45) 1 Corinthians 15:20-26


There is of course no gospel reading which narrates the Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her sharing body and soul in the risen life of her Son. St Paul, in the second reading for the feast, speaks of Christ as the ‘first-fruits’ from the dead, and then of ‘those who belong to him’, who follow him into life. We can consider Mary to be the first among these, for she was the first to respond to the call to serve Christ.

The gospel reading demonstrates with what faith and generosity she answered God’s call. She visits her cousin Elizabeth, filled with a spirit of prayer and praise, which is spelled out at length in her song of joy, the Magnificat. God’s mercy to Abraham and his descendants, of which she sings, is a fidelity which never ends and which leads God’s faithful people, body and soul, into the life of God.

The inexpressible glory of the risen life bestowed on Mary is suggested in the vision of the woman ‘adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with twelve stars on her head’ from the Book of Revelation, which has traditionally been used to celebrate the glory Mary receives through her being ‘assumed’ body and soul into the presence of God.

What does the feast of the Assumption tell us about the value of our bodies?

Why is it that Mary is so privileged by God?

We pray that we may be filled with the hope of the resurrection.

Let us pray for a deeper appreciation and love for the mother of Jesus.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy