Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church rejoices together celebrating the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. On this day, we gather together to remember the glory and honour which the Lord gave to His beloved Mother, Mary, Blessed-Ever Virgin, who has received graces and blessings beyond all other women and all other children of God.
What is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary? In order to understand this word, first of all we must distinguish it from the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into heaven. For at the Assumption, declared in the year 1950 to be a dogma of the Church but has been believed since time immemorial, refers to the moment when Mary was bodily assumed in the body and spirit, into the glory of heaven without passing through the process of death.
This is different from the Ascension in that, while the Lord ascended into heaven by His own power, glory and majesty, and by His own will, but Mary was assumed into heaven by the grace and the will of God, and not by her own will or power. The Assumption of Mary was widely acknowledged by the Church teachings and tradition for many years before it was formally announced as a dogma in 1950, because of the Church fathers’ teachings on Mary, as the mother of God.
It is precisely because it was established definitively by the early Ecumenical Councils that Mary is none other than the mother of God, and not just merely the mother of Jesus Christ, the Man, since the divinity and humanity of Christ although separate and distinct but are united in Him, thus, if Jesus is both fully Man and fully God, we cannot say that Mary was just merely the mother of the human Jesus.
When the Lord Jesus was formed in the flesh in the womb of Mary, He was already fully Man and fully Divine. As such, the Divinity Himself has come down to dwell on the earthly body of man, such a glorious dwelling of God must be matched with a worthy vessel to contain His great majesty, glory and divinity. This is the mystery of God, Who is both infinite and omnipresent, and yet, at the same time, can be contained in His wholeness in a small host, the Eucharist, as well as in the body of a Man, born a baby through the Virgin Mary.
And if we look carefully at the accounts from the Scriptures, especially those presented in both the readings of the Vigil of the Assumption and this day itself, there is a lot of emphasis on the Ark of the Covenant and the Woman in the Book of Revelations. The Ark of the Covenant was where the two tablets of God’s Law, the manna and the staff of Aaron was kept, as the sign of the Holy Presence of God among His people.
The Ark was the centre and heart of the worship and celebrations of the people of ancient Israel. It was always carried around through the desert leading the people of Israel during their forty years journey towards the Promised Land of Canaan, and was placed in the richly decorated Tent of Meeting. The Ark of the Covenant itself was richly built and endowed in the most precious materials of the world, to signify the greatness of God’s Presence among His people.
The woman in the Book of Revelations, crowned with stars and adorned with sun and moon about her, is often alluded to Mary, whose depiction often showing her crowned gloriously with a crown of stars, the moon and the sun. The woman is also often associated with the Church, labouring in pain for the One Who was to rule the nations with power and authority. The Baby was none other than the Lord Jesus Himself.
And the woman represents both Mary and the Church, for recently, Mary has also been recognised in her title of Mary, Mother of the Church. For she is the One Who bore the Lord and Messiah of the world in her womb for nine months, as the worthy earthly Tabernacle and as the Ark of God’s Presence. Mary has been chosen and blessed by God, to be given the singular grace of freedom from the taint of sin.
This is what we know as the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church upholds that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without the taint of original sin, and therefore was free from the dominion and power of sin. And because sin is caused by the disobedience against God’s will, leading to suffering in this world and ultimately death, the freedom from sin also means, the freedom from death.
Thus that was why the Lord did not allow death to claim His mother, unlike all of us mankind who will eventually encounter death at some point in our lives, at the time of God’s own choosing and will. Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, for Christ came bearing the New Covenant between God and man. And as the Ark of God, Mary has been hallowed and prepared by God to be the one through whom He has entered into this world.
And if Mary did not sin, or that by the singular grace and will of God, free from original sin, then she should not be subjected to death, for death occurs only because of sin, and without sin, one should not die. Indeed, the Lord Jesus died, but not because of His own sins, rather, because of His own will and desire that through His death, He might unite all of us who believe in Him and share in His humanity, and bring us all into the new life He gives us, sharing in His glorious resurrection.
That is why, if God made very righteous people like Enoch and the prophet Elijah to come to Him directly without experiencing death, while they were still affected by original sin, all the more the Mother of God, conceived without sin and remaining ever pure and blameless throughout her life, should also be worthy to receive from God Himself, her Son, the crown of everlasting glory, not letting death to have any part of her.
In the end, the Solemnity of the Assumption has twofold meaning and significance for us all. First of all, through the dogma of the Assumption, we believe that Mary herself, more worthy than any other man, is the greatest of all saints, by the virtue of her motherhood of God and of her own great virtues in life, obedience to God and faith. And being in heaven, she is at the right hand of God, her Son, as His closest confidant as well as our own.
That is why many of us have special devotions to Mary, for she is just like our mother as well, listening to our petitions and prayers, asking her to intercede for our sake, just as she herself had done on the behalf of the wedding couple in Cana. We can trust in her and confide ourselves in her, just as we trust and confide ourselves in our mother’s love and care. If God, her Son, cares for and loves us all, it is only natural that Mary will also do the same to us.
Then, secondly, Mary is also the perfect role model for us all as Christians, for she obeyed the Lord completely and faithfully devoted herself to His will throughout her life. She followed the journey and ministry of her Son Jesus, Our Lord, all the way to the culmination of His earthly ministry in Calvary, the place where Mary herself witnessed with great anguish, her Son being crucified and died. Yet, she surrendered everything to God and trusted Him completely.
The Assumption is then a premonition and a revelation of our own future and upcoming fate, which all of us mankind should aspire to and look forward to. The glorification of Mary, assumed in the body and soul into heaven is a preview of our own glorious resurrection from the dead, when we shall leave behind our mortal and sinful past, to enter into the new life in God, in perfection of love and grace, without any more sin or sorrow.
Now, what we all need to realise is that, while indeed Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, bearing the Lord Jesus in her womb, but each and every one of us who are members of God’s Church and having received the proper instruction in the faith, and found worthy to receive the Lord Himself, present in Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we are also God’s Holy Temple and Dwelling House.
Yet, while Mary was hallowed and prepared holy by God, just as the old Ark of the Covenant was hallowed and made with the most precious of materials available, but we mankind preferred to corrupt and to make dirty, what God had made good and wonderful in our own bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. Through the sins we commit in our daily life actions, we make ourselves unworthy of God, and the consequences of these, are very dire indeed.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on this great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, can we reflect on our own lives as well? Are we able to think through our every actions and deeds, all that we may have done in contrary of God’s will, and caused by our greed and by our own wickedness? All these things that had led us into sin against God?
Let us all turn therefore towards God, and devote our whole attention to Him from now on, if we have not done so. Let us all look towards Mary, the mother of our God, by whose intercessions, we have been helped each and every single days of our life. Let us all imitate her examples, her piety and commitment to God, that we may also one day share in the same glory that God has given Mary, His mother, most blessed among women and most faithful among men.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, whom your Son has willed that you be worthy of assumption into glorious heaven, in body and soul, our beloved mother and guide, pray for us all sinners, now and always, and at the hour of our death. Amen.