Here is a translation of the homily given by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, during a Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he celebrated on a visit to Singapore.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today, as we gather as Church to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, we are united, not only as the universal Church around the See of Peter, but also with the communion of saints as One Church.
I greet with affection your Archbishop, the Most Rev. William Goh thanking him for his kind words of welcome.
I also greet the priests, religious men and women, as well as all of the lay faithful and men and women of good will, who are here to join us in this Eucharistic celebration. I convey to each of you the greetings and blessings of Pope Francis as we are united with him in our prayers this morning.
In this moment my thought is also for those who are unable to attend this celebration, especially the elderly and the sick, in particular Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia.
The scriptural passages of today’s Mass give us tremendous hope as we contemplate our final destination; for a member of the human family has charted a way for all of us. Our Lady, in her Assumption, has this glorious privilege which encourages us on our earthly pilgrimage.
The wonderful gift of redemption is fully realised in the resurrection of the body and this Solemnity reminds us that the corporeal world is also the subject of the redemption of Christ. The human person is not separated into a spiritual part and a bodily part. The human person is offered salvation integrally: both body and soul.
This year, Singapore commemorates fifty years of independence. I know that the National Day was celebrated a week ago and, on 4th July, the Catholic community of Singapore rejoiced in prayers and festivity for SG50. I join in your gladness and congratulate you, wishing peace and prosperity for your beloved Country.
As Our Lady’s Assumption is not the end of salvation history but the beginning, so also, the next fifty years calls for the Church in Singapore to help chart a way forward for herself and in her service of society.
While much has been achieved over the span of fifty years, the work is never finished and the torch is passed on to a new generation of citizens.
For almost 200 years the Church has been present in Singapore. Against that backdrop, today’s gospel invites the Christian community to look with some urgency at new and creative ways of carrying forward the proclamation of the gospel of salvation in a changing society. This includes addressing the new challenges that emerge in a “globalised” and more connected world; offering practical assistance to an emerging reality in need of guidance.
His Holiness, Pope Francis has called the Church to live up to her mission: to go forth, to go out of herself. He reminds all of us that the task of every Christian is to be a missionary; to be a missionary especially to the margins and at the peripheries of our societies.
I am indeed glad to note that the Church in Singapore has organisations and institutions, attending not only to the fields of education and health, but also to care for the poor, the elderly, those marginalised by sickness and also offenders. We should not, however, simply allow these initiatives, good though they undoubtedly are, to obscure the personal obligation, incumbent on each one of us, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in reaching out to the lost, the last and the least.
As Singapore continues to progress in contributing much to the international community, it is important for the Catholic Church to be a partner with all people of good will in recognising the place of religious faiths, virtue and morality as essential foundations of a society and a nation.
In the face of aggressive secularism, the Church needs to present a rational and patient witness recalling the words of Pope Francis who said, “When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated.” (Pope Francis, Speech, Tirana, 21 September 2014).
Celebrating this Solemnity today, we recall the witness of Our Lady who in her hymn recognises the rightful place of God, “My Soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour” (Luke 1: 46-47).
In Mary, we have a perfect example of a disciple who was able and made herself available to the working of the Holy Spirit: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your Word!” (Luke 1: 38).
With Our Lady as your guide, I believe the Archdiocese of Singapore will do great things for the Lord! The Mother of God protects us with the mantle of her maternal love; her intercession is a consolation for all her children, but also a prompt to ensure we stay close to her Son on our earthly pilgrimage.
As we continue with our Eucharist, we give thanks for the fruitful witness of the Catholic Church in Singapore and we ask God to shower abundant blessings for her constant growth and witness as a missionary Church.[Translation by Vatican Radio]