The DRAGON presented to us in TODAY’S FIRST READING [REVELATION 11: 19a; 12: 1 – 6a, 10ab] deserves a little attention. It is not only in the Bible {Revelation, Isaiah, the Psalms, and Job} but also other ancient writings that dragons are conjured up as signs of danger, instruments of destruction and enemies of men and women. In very general biblical terms “the dragon represents original chaos – the dark depths that governed before the creation of the world. When the world was created … the terrifying dominion of the dragon was at an end.” {see Page 218: This Transforming Word – Cycle B: Alice Camille: ACTA PUBLICATIONS}

In REVELATION, Saint John uses the dragon as a symbol of the renewed threat to the world of the Gospel, the Church, and the Christian understanding of creation. Evil exists in our own world. It has a force and a power. Good also exists with its own force and power. The only way in which the dragon can be overcome is when we unleash the energies of good we carry within us as the result of our Christian faith. {At the same time we must never be dismissive of the power for good that lives within members of other faiths. Christians do not have a monopoly of the power for good.}

We all need to acknowledge the dragon which lurks in the dark corners of our own hearts – as well as in contemporary society. This dragon is a constant challenge to the good which lives within all of us. The power of good, for the Christian, is always FOR new life. Ultimately the dragon cannot emerge as victorious. It may be powerful, but it is no match for the might of our God.

The reason why our first reading is allocated to the Solemnity of the Assumption is that “Mary of Nazareth has become, in Christian symbolism, the Lady who withstood the dragon.” {source cited above} I, too, must train myself in the ways needed to withstand the dragons in my life. The woman in Revelation gives birth. The dragon is aware of what is happening and awaits its opportunity to act. However, there is another power at hand. The woman and the child are protected by the presence and action of God. “Salvation and power are established.” Much of what has been said resonates in TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 CORINTHIANS 15: 20 – 27]. Paul tells us that “for as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … He delivers … to the Father afer destroying every rule and every authority and power. … For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”

TODAY’S GOSPEL [ LUKE 1: 39 – 56] holds the key to the door that opens into our own confrontations with the powers and forces of evil in our world and personal lives. It also reveals that both Elizabeth and Mary had to face, challenge and overcome similar encounters with the dragon. I see Elizabeth’s question as more than revealing – “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Here we are involved with the early stages of the destruction of every rule, authority and power … of all things becoming subject. The Gospel records do not in any way indicate that Elizabeth had any prior knowledge of Gabriel’s visit to Mary – and certainly she was unaware of the fact that Mary herself was pregnant. Elizabeth had to face the dragons of fear, uncertainty as well as the secret questions posed by her neighbours. As we know, Mary had been afraid in the face of the archangel’s message. She had questioned and hesitated. We are faced with two simple, very ordinary, women – one young the other older – who, as a result of God’s call for their obedience and cooperation, had to confront their dragons.

It is Mary’s Magnificat set out in our Gospel extract which summarises the basics on which we have been reflecting. “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name … he has shown strength with his arm … put down the mighty … helped his servant.” The Lord God has done the conquering through the obedience of those he called to and for his purpose. Mary’s Assumption is God-in-Christ’s confirmation that (i) the dragons we face can be conquered if we cooperate with him, and (ii) he always comes to the help if his servants – he exalts those of low degree!

Mary recognised the dragons in her life. She believed in God’s plan, and knew she was a part of it. Mary provides us with an example which ordinary folk are able to imitate. It is truly possible for us, together with Christ to conquer our dragons.

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