SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

August 15, 2018

Revelation 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

 

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple;

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God,

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God
    and the authority of his Messiah.”

 

Psalm 45:10-12, 16

 

 At your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
    forget your people and your father’s house,

    and the king will desire your beauty.

With joy and gladness they are led along

    as they enter the palace of the king.

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-27

 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him.”

 

Luke 1:39-56

 

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

 

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

 

(NRSVCE)

 

Meditation

 

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; that is, that Mary the mother of God did not die in a normal sense, but fell asleep and was assumed body and soul into heaven. While the scriptures do not explicitly recount this event, Catholic theology and devotion have long held that God favored Mary in this way as the unique vessel of grace who bore His Son into the world, just as He preserved her from original sin for this purpose. The Assumption of Mary flows theologically from the Resurrection of Christ, whom God resurrected in His body, and who bodily ascended into heaven. Although this dogma long predates modern biological understanding, we now know scientifically that when a mother bears a child, cells from that child remain in the mother’s body throughout her life. Thus in order for the body of Christ to be fully raised up into heaven, the body of His mother would also have to be received into heaven at the time of her passing from the earth. It is an extraordinary and miraculous thing to believe; about as extraordinary and miraculous as believing that God became incarnate and dwelt among us, that He died and was resurrected, and that we too will be raised in our bodies and united to Him after our death.

 

So today the scriptures recount the many ways that Mary received our Lord and participated in His work of redemption, and the ways she shares Him with us and invites us into that redemptive work. Mary bore the Christ into the world, kept Him safe from harm and evil, and resisted the devil who doubtless tempted her although she was full of grace and free from sin. Mary believed the word of God, assented to the King’s plan for her life, and shared in her Lord’s resurrection. And upon receiving the body of the Lord within her own body, Mary immediately went forth to share Him with her kinswoman, and to respond to the honors bestowed on her by magnifying God her Savior.

 

We too can look to Mary to unite ourselves to Jesus and His plans for our lives. We can call upon her intercession to help us resist the evils that threaten us, our brothers and sisters, and our Church. We can invoke her aid in prayer and meditate on her life to receive Jesus more fully into our hearts and to share Him with others. We can honor her, knowing that she will respond by honoring God and drawing us closer to His heart. And by meditating on the singular grace of her life, dormition, and assumption into heaven, we can meditate on the great mystery that our Lord has called us into; to seek Him in this life, and be united with Him forever in the next.

 

Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

 

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