Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is truly a special occasion for all of us, as not only that we celebrate the Sunday of the Lord, but by coincidence on this fifteenth day of August, as is every year, we also celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which marks the moment when Mary, the Holy Mother of God was ‘assumed’ into the glory of Heaven, body and soul, and therefore, in some way, did not suffer fully the embrace of death, by the unique singular grace of God, her Son, Our Lord and Saviour.
This Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the four important Dogmas or core tenets of the faith with regards to Mary, together with the Dogma of the Theotokos or the Divine Motherhood of Mary, the Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and finally the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an affirmation of the long-held belief of the Church since the earliest times, declared official by Pope Pius XII in the year of Our Lord 1950, in his. ‘Ex Cathedra’ proclamation and the Papal Bull Munificentissimus Deus.
First of all, the Assumption is not equivalent to the Ascension of the Lord, as how some had misunderstood, thinking that we believe in Mary’s ‘Ascension’ into heaven. The Ascension of the Lord refers to how the Lord Jesus ascended by His own power and might, to sit on His Throne in Heaven, returning from where He had come from, and to prepare the place for us all, the faithful people of God. Meanwhile, the Assumption refers to the moment when Mary, by the grace and the power of God, was taken up into Heaven, not on her own accord.
There lies the difference between Our Lord’s Ascension and His mother’s Assumption, a difference that seems to be minute and yet, very important, lest we misunderstand them and like for some, causing them to have the wrong impression and idea about the true Christian faith, especially among some of our separated brethren, who held wrong ideas and false perception of what the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the same manner, all of us also must know what the Assumption is all about and how significant it is to our faith. Many among us Christians are still having misconceptions about our own faith, having misunderstandings and doing the wrong practices, and showing the wrong identity of the faith, with regards to our devotion to Mary and the other saints. That is why we have to understand clearly what the Assumption is all about, that we may indeed become genuine witnesses of our faith to many others.
Mary has been chosen by God to be the special Vessel and to be the New Ark, of the New Covenant between God and all of us. As such, she has been given the special grace of being conceived without the taint of original sin, which we celebrate as the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, as the pure and immaculate Vessel, conceived and then born without sin or any subjugation to it, free from its influences unlike that of any other human beings, save that of her own Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.
Therefore, having been so prepared to be the New Ark of the New Covenant, far better than the old Ark, which was sacrosanct and holy, therefore, Mary, who bore in her womb, the Lord and Saviour Himself, ought not to have been subjected to the punishment and suffering of death. Why is that so? That is because death is the punishment and consequence of sin, and if Mary had not been tainted or corrupted by sin, then death has no hold over her at all.
Yet, with regards to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known in the Eastern Church traditions as the Dormition of the Theotokos, there are two main schools of thoughts regarding what actually happened at the moment of the Assumption. One stated that since Mary as the one who had been free from the taint of sin and as the Mother of the Saviour of all, then she must have completely been free from death, and therefore, was raised up into heavenly glory, in body and soul, that she entered Heaven and is no longer in the world.
Then, another school of thought stated that Mary did go through death, just like any others, because she shared in her Son’s Passion and death, and she died just as her Son also died, but not because of a punishment for her own sins. Therefore, that death was merely symbolic and in the end, whether she died or went into the sleep of death as per the Eastern tradition of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Mary went body and soul up into Heaven. Hence, regardless whether she actually died, went through death or any experience of death, Mary is now in Heaven, and that is what truly matters.
Then, brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this crucial for us? How is it important for us to appreciate this celebration of the Assumption of Mary, the Blessed ever-Virgin Mother of God? Mary’s Assumption into Heaven first of all is an assurance for us that we have someone who is always ever constantly praying for us, and who intercedes for us directly beside the Throne of her Son. For Mary is indeed the greatest of all the saints, and the one closest to Our Lord Himself, as is she not His mother? Just like the occasion of the miracle of the wedding at Cana, even the Lord would still listen to the words of His loving mother.
And that is not all, brothers and sisters in Christ, for in the Assumption of Mary, we also see the promise of new life and existence that we ourselves are going to experience in the time to come, as we will also be raised to Heaven, body and soul, at the end of time, when the final judgment comes, and our souls shall be reunited fully with our bodies, glorified, purified and blessed, that we may enjoy forever, with Mary, and with all the saints, the glory and true joy of Heaven with God forevermore.
Through the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, all of us are called to examine our own lives, and how we have lived them thus far. Have we been truly faithful to God in all things? Or have we instead allowed the temptations and the allures of worldly pleasures to distract us and mislead us down the wrong path? These are just some of things and questions that we should consider carefully, as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, being reminded that if we sin, and do not repent from those sins, then death is the consequence, and there can be nothing worse than to be judged to eternal death and suffering.
Let us all therefore aspire to reject the path of sinfulness and evil, rejecting wickedness and disobedient attitudes in life. Instead, let us all look upon Mary, our loving mother and inspiration, that we may be more like her in faith, dedication and love for God, and be righteous in all of our dealings and actions. We are all called to be role models ourselves, and to be faithful and good witnesses of our Christian beliefs and faith in the midst of our respective communities.
Are we willing and able to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is something that each and every one of us are certainly capable of doing, but more often than not we did not do so because we spent more time on worldly pursuits and in satisfying our personal desires, that we could not even spare a thought or effort to commit ourselves sincerely and with conviction. Hence, this Sunday, as we celebrate this great occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all remind ourselves to be ever more committed to the Lord, and to do our very best to follow the Lord and to serve Him, and to live faithfully in accordance to His will from now on.
May the Lord bless us all and remain with us throughout this journey of life, and may His blessed mother, Mary, who has been assumed, body and soul, into the glory of Heaven, continue to intercede for us sinners, and be our constant source of strength and inspiration in how we live our lives as Christians from now on. Holy Mary, Mother of God, assumed into Heaven, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.