Pope Francis

By Christopher Wells

Aug 16 2023

At the Angelus on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis reflects on the “secret” that characterized the lives of Jesus and Mary: service and praise.

Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

Today, the Pope said, as “we contemplate her ascending in body and soul to the glory of Heaven,” we also see Mary, in the Gospel, ascending “‘into the hill country’ to help her cousin Elizabeth.” It is there, the Pope notes, that Mary “proclaims the joyful canticle of the Magnificat.”

“Mary ascends, and the Word of God reveals to us what characterizes us as she does so: service to her neighbour and praise to God,” the Pope said, noting that Mary’s life mirrors that of her Son: “Jesus and Mary… travel the same road, two lives that ascend upwards glorifying the God and serving the brethren.”

“Mary ascends, and the Word of God reveals to us what characterizes us as she does so: service to her neighbour and praise to God.”

Service

Reflecting first on service, Pope Francis said, “It is when we stoop to serve our brethren that we rise; it is love that elevates life.”

At the same time, he acknowledged that serving others is not easy; there is a cost to helping others. Like Mary, who had travelled a long way to be with Elizabeth, we, too, find that being in service to others involves fatigue, patience, worries. “It is tiring,” he said, “but it is ascending upwards, it is to gain heaven!”

Praise

However, the Holy Father warned, “service risks being barren without praise to God.” Turning again to the Gospel, he noted that, after her long journey, Mary did not dwell on her weariness; rather “a song of jubilation springs from her heart, because those who love God know praise.”

“Service risks being barren without praise to God.”

Praise is one of the keynotes of the day’s Gospel, he continued, noting Elizabeth’s joyful greeting to Mary and the child “who leaps with joy in Elizabeth’s womb.” Praise, he said, “is like a ladder: it leads hearts upwards.”

Service and praise in daily life

Pope Francis then invited his listeners to ask themselves, “Do I make service the ‘springboard’ of my life? … Do I, like Mary, exult in God? … And, after praising Him, do I spread His joy among the people I meet?”

The Holy Father concluded his remarks with the prayer calling on “Mary our Mother, assumed into heaven” to “help us to climb higher each day through prayer and service.” – Vatican News