Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great feast and solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the glory of Heaven, a great occasion instituted and declared as a dogma of the Faith, by the holy and pious Pope Pius XII in the year 1950, just about a century after another dogma declared the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that Mary was prepared beforehand by God to be special, to be beyond and above all other men and women, in that she was conceived without any taints of original sin, which has tainted all other mankind ever since sin entered into the hearts of men since the days of Adam and Eve and their disobedience.

Understanding what Immaculate Conception is, and what the meaning of the Assumption is, tied with the role that Mary played in the whole plan of God’s salvation of mankind is important if we are to appreciate how significant the things that we are celebrating today are. And as Christians, truly, we have to appreciate what Mary as the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, had done.

The Assumption refers to the moment when Mary was taken up into heaven and did not suffer a bodily death on earth. Our fellow brethren in the Eastern Orthodox Church had a similar belief in what is called the Dormition of the Theotokos, as in their tradition, Mary as the mother of God fell into a deep sleep at the end of her earthly life and was taken up into the glory of heaven.

But all these speak about the same thing, that the mother of God did not suffer from an earthly death of the body, but instead was taken up directly by God into the glory of heaven. And lest all those who misunderstood the intention of this event and those who misunderstood the role of Mary complained that we glorified her too much or even accused us of making a deity or a goddess out of her, then we should know more about how Mary is special and so important in the role she played in ensuring our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the readings of the Sacred Scriptures today, we should see how many of them speak about the Ark of the Covenant of God. It was told in our first reading, from the Book of Chronicles, about the moment when king David wanted to transfer the Ark of God, or the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem.

Festivities, songs and dances were prepared, and a grand welcome was planned to bring in the Ark of the Covenant into the city. And why is that so? Because the Ark of the Covenant is a grand golden vessel containing the two slabs of stone upon which God Himself had touched and on which He had written the Law and the Covenant which He had established with His people. It is a representative of God’s very Presence in this world.

But how does that then relate to Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ? That is because if we know Who Christ is, then certainly we can make that clear link between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, Mary indeed is also the Ark of the Covenant, as she bore within her the New Covenant of God with mankind, that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world in order to save the world and right all the wrongs and faults which was in this world. Mankind had erred and through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, they had brought the sundering and the separation between us and God. According to St. Paul, through the act of one man, the whole race of men had been brought low by sin and had to suffer and die. But through the act of another Man, they all have been brought into a new life in God.

And that Man was Jesus Christ, the One Who had been born through the virgin, Mary, His mother, that by His works, He may bring all mankind back into the loving embrace of God. Through Jesus, a new covenant between God and mankind had been established, while the old covenant had passed away. The old covenant God made with mankind had expired and been replaced anew with one that will last forever.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not the same as the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the first place, we are not making Mary to be a goddess or a deity on her own right. Jesus ascended by His own power and might, but Mary was brought up by God into heaven through His will to grant her the singular grace to escape the snares of death. She alone among all mankind not to suffer death.

And why is this so, brethren? That is because as the vessel bearing the Lord of life and He Who have mastered and conquered death, it does not seem appropriate if then His own mother would succumb to it, as death is the consequence for sin, and for someone who has been conceived without the taints of original sin, that is the blessed mother of our Lord, Mary, it is appropriate that our Lord rewarded her with such a privilege.

But in the end, how are all these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because we know for sure that Jesus our Lord would not let His mother to suffer death or in any sense, any form of earthly and bodily decay, so thus He will also endeavour to bring us all into the salvation and liberation which He alone can bring unto us. For in Mary we have seen the fullness of God’s faithful promises to us mankind, that He will deliver us all from the snares of sin and from the sting of sin, that is death.

Yet, all these will also require our dedication and commitment. We cannot truly receive the fullness of God’s promise and God’s salvation if we ourselves are the ones who place the barriers and obstacles on our path to attain God’s mercy and grace. God offers us His mercy and forgiveness freely, but we shall find that we are ourselves our greatest enemy. It is our reluctance, our lack of desire to be forgiven, that lack of the sense of regret for our sins that have caused us to remain trapped within that quagmire of sin.

And lastly, we have that one great helper and a source of inspiration to depend on, as we make this journey of faith towards God. Mary herself is our greatest help and our great protector before her Son, our Lord. She is in heaven, interceding for our sake daily, praying for us and for all the beleaguered children of God, whom God had entrusted to her care from the cross.

On this day of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us renew our devotion to the Lord our God through His blessed mother Mary, who has shown us the way forward, by following her examples, faith and piety that we too may receive the same glory which had been accorded to her. We too shall share in the joy of heaven and in the eternal life promised by God to all of His faithful ones. All that we need to do is to really devote ourselves, our time and our efforts in order to serve the Lord our God and follow Him with all of our strength.

May God bless us all and keep us, and may His mercy be poured down upon us, and through His blessed mother Mary, whom we remember today in her glorious Assumption into heaven, let us all look up to her as the great model for our own, and thus we will be more able to proceed forward to the goal of our life, that is to be reunited with God, our loving Lord and Creator at the end of it all. Let us all seek the Lord through Mary, His beloved mother. Mary, Blessed Mother of God assumed into heaven, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

At that time, Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with Holy Spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour! He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name! From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden.”

“He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 20-26

But no, Christ has been raised from the dead and He comes before all those who have fallen asleep. A human being brought death; a Human Being also brings resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. However, each one in his own time : first Christ, then Christ’s people, when He comes.

Then the end will come, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, after having destroyed every rule, authority and power. For He must reign and put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 44 : 10bc, 11, 12ab, 16

At Your right hand, in gold of Ophir, stands the queen.

Listen, o daughter, pay attention; forget your father’s house and your nation.

And your beauty will charm the King, for He is your Lord.

Amid cheers and general rejoicing, they enter the palace of the King.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 11 : 19a and Revelations 12 : 1-6a, 10ab

Then the sanctuary of God in the heavens was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant of God could be seen inside the sanctuary. A great sign appeared in heaven : a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain, looking to her time of delivery.

Then another sign appeared : a huge, red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and wearing seven crowns on its heads. It had just swept along a third of the stars of heaven with its tail, throwing them down to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour the Child as soon as it was born.

She gave birth to a male Child, the One Who is to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre; then her Child was seized and taken up to God and to His throne while the woman fled to the desert where God had prepared a place for her. Then I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed.

(Usus Antiquior) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Monday, 15 August 2016 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : White

Offertory

Genesis 3 : 15

Inimicitas ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius.

 

English translation

I will put enmities between you and the Woman, and between your seed and her Seed.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Ascendat ad Te, Domine, nostrae devotionis oblatio, et, beatissima Virgine Maria in caelum assumpta intercedente, corda nostra, caritatis igne succensa, ad Te jugiter adspirent. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May the offering of our devotion ascend to you, o Lord, and through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, who was taken up into heaven, may our hearts be inflamed with the fire of love, and continually long for You. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Et Te in Assumptionis Beatae Mariae semper Virginis collaudare, benedicere et praedicare. Quae et Unigenitum Tuum Sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit : et, virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen aeternum mundo effudit, Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

 

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, o holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God, and on the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, should praise and bless and proclaim You. For she conceived Your only begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and losing not the glory of her virginity, gave to the world the everlasting light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Your majesty, the Dominions worship it, and the Powers are in awe. The heaven and the heavenly hosts, and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray to You joining our voices as well, while we say with lowly praise :

 

Communion

Luke 1 : 48-49

Beatam me dicent omnes generationes, quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est.

 

English translation

All generations shall call me blessed, because He who is mighty had done great things to me.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Sumptis, Domine, salutaribus sacramentis : da, quaesumus; ut, meritis et intercessione Beatae Virginis Mariae in caelum assumptae, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Now that we have received, o Lord, the Sacrament of salvation, grant, we beseech You, that through the merits and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was taken up into heaven, we may be brought to the glory of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Monday, 15 August 2016 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : White

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 1 : 41-50

In illo tempore : Repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth et exclamavit voce magna, et dixit : Benedicta tu inter mulieres, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. Et unde hoc mihi ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me? Ecce enim ut facta est vox salutionis tuae in auribus meis, exsultavit in gaudio infans in utero meo. Et beata, quae credidisti, quoniam perficientur ea, quae dicta sunt tibi a Domino.

Et ait Maria : Magnificat anima mea Dominum; et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo; quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae, ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes. Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum Nomen Ejus, et misericordia Ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.

 

English translation

At that time, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed are you who have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul had magnified the Lord, and my spirit had rejoiced in God my Saviour, because He had regarded the humility of His handmaid, for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He who is mighty had done great things to me, and holy is His Name, and His mercy is from generation unto generations, to those who fear Him.”