And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
Today we are celebrating the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is to say, we are celebrating the fact that Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ was taken up straight to heaven at the end of her life. Mary’s body was never buried in any tomb. As the Catechism teaches us: “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (CCC. No. 966).
If you read what Jesus said in John 6:51, you will not have any problem believing the truth of the Assumption of Mary! In Jesus’ own words: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” If by sharing in Holy Communion, (the body of Christ), we shall live forever, what can we say about the Woman who carried Christ in her womb for nine months?
The above catechism further reiterates: “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.” (CCC. No. 966). When we celebrate the Assumption, we remind ourselves how we too shall live forever with Christ in heaven after our journey on earth is over. The assumption is not simply Mary’s feast but our own feast as well. We are celebrating the fact that God will raise us up on the last day.
In our Gospel passage this morning, Mary, even while still alive prophesied about the honour that would be given to her forever. She said: “Behold, all generations will call me blessed.” We honour Mary because God honoured her. If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is God and that He took flesh in a woman’s womb, then you would have no problem calling that woman blessed.
Luke tells us how a woman upon the realization that Jesus is God in human flesh “raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’” (Luke 11:27). This feast of the Assumption is another occasion on which to call Mary blessed as Angel Gabriel did when he came to announce to Mary the fact that she would be the Mother of God. Even Elizabeth in today’s Gospel passage said to Mary: “Blessed are you among women.”
In our first reading today, St. John writing with heavily coded language talks about a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Despite her glory, this woman is heavy with child and cries out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. A dragon with seven heads and ten horns tries to devour her child but the child was caught up to God while the woman flees into the wilderness. War arose in heaven and Michael and his angels fought and defeated the dragon throwing him down.
When we recall how Herod tried to kill the infant Jesus and how the Angel warned Joseph in a dream to take the child and flee with Mary to Egypt at night, we cannot but see how John’s revelation points undoubtedly to Mary. She is the woman clothed with the Sun and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She is the woman that God himself bestowed such great honour and glory. She is the Queen who wears a crown of the twelve tribes of Israel.
St. Paul explains to us in our second reading that the child she gave birth to is the New Adam (no earthly father). Christ is the one who came to undo the mistake of the first Adam. As Adam brought death to mankind by his disobedience on the tree of the garden, Christ brought life to mankind by his obedience unto death on the tree of the cross of Calvary. Unlike Adam who was deceived when tempted by the devil, Christ was subjected to several temptations and overcame.
In conclusion, what exactly is the significance of today’s feast for us? Our opening prayer at mass gives us a good answer. It prays: “Grant we pray, that always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers in her (Mary’s) glory.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you honoured Mary by assuming her body and soul into heaven, you honoured some of the saints by letting their bodies remain fresh even after death, grant that I may live a pure and sinless life so as to find a similar favour in your sight at the end of my life. Amen
Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu.