The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Fr Odise SDB

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‘‘The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.’’ In these words of the apostolic constitution MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS (MD) Pope Pius XII, on Nov. 1, 1950, most solemnly described the crowning event of the life of the Blessed Virgin. Thus defining the dogma of Mary’s Assumption, he wrote the final chapter of the centuries-long tradition of belief in this mystery. This article considers mainly the scriptural basis, taking as its guide the apostolic constitution, the theological explanation of the Assumption.

Focusing on the first reading (Revelation 11:19,12:1-6,10)

The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies, the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful teachers, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations, and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This blessed offspring were and are protected by God.

As we are entering to the second reading (1 Cor 15:20-26) let us remind to ourselves a common temptation that comes often in our minds which is quite challenging to many who call themselves ‘Christians’. This temptation is the one which makes us think 🤔 and say ‘… but all are doing like this…! Why shouldn’t I? One more or one less is not going to make a big difference. At the end of the day the laws ⚖ (of the church, country and so on) are to be broken!’ Even though we might think that we are powerful, no one can stop 🛑 us and we can break the laws whenever we wish. Can we really break the laws or violate them? Just imagine for a while a person who wakes up one morning, goes up to the 10th floor, then he says that ‘I want to break the law of the gravity today’ and he jumps …! What is going to happen? Is he going to break the law of the gravity or is he going to break all his bones (and not only that…)? I leave the answer to your judgement. Let us think about this, whenever we might have the temptation to break a law even the smallest one. What are it’s consequences to me and to the other? Is that the purpose for which was I made? Is this action going to save my life, please God and my neighbour?

Saint Paul reminds us in today’s second reading that “since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life” (1Cor 21-22). In Adam … in Christ: the Hebrew word ‘ādām in Genesis is both a common noun for mankind and a proper noun for the first man. Paul here presents Adam as at least a literary type of Christ; (the parallelism and contrast between them will be developed further in 1 Cor 15:45–49 and in Rom 5:12–21). As we can clearly notice that the decisions, words and the actions of even one single person can make a huge difference on that very same person and not only, but also to many others who surround him.

A clear example is Mary in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56) who responded with generosity to the angelic message by welcoming the Good News and going to share it with Elizabeth until just before the birth of her child. Mary’s visit provided further confirmation of the message in that she was greeted by Elizabeth apparently spontaneously with a blessing. She realised that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah, and she was overjoyed that she should visit her. She praised Mary for accepting the angel’s word. Even the movements of the foetus in her womb were seen as a response to Mary’s arrival. Mary’s poetic reply is known as the ‘Magnificat’ (the Latin verb for ‘glorifies’). It uses the form and language of a Jewish psalm and is saturated with echoes of Old Testament praise to God. Inspiration for the words came from 1 Sam 2:1–10, the song of Hannah after God had given her a child. The shape of the song is that a shout of exultation to God, indicating why he is to be praised. After the briefest reference to Mary’s own reason for thanksgiving, the song tells of what God does for his people, speaking quite concretely of his judgements on the mighty and his blessings for the humble; all in fulfilment of his promises to his people long ago. The past tenses in verses 51-54 most probably express what God is going to do in the future through the Messiah; actions that have already begun to take place in that the Messiah has already been conceived, and actions that are of the same kind as what God has done in the past history of Israel. This is thus a metaphorical description of the work of Jesus that started long time ago and continues within you every day.

As you have listened 👂 to God’s Word today, you too are bearers of ‘HIS GOOD NEWS’. Are you ready to be what you have received by Baptism, accepted and renewed by your Confirmation to go and be HIS WITNESSES. As Saint Francis of Assisi used to say “preach everywhere, always and if it is needed use also your words!” In other words to preach with our own life. Let us as God’s grace that we may be the ONE whom HE meant us to be, that we all may be happy not just now, but also for eternity.

Be blessed and be a blessing.