Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. The Assumption of Mary refers to the moment when she was taken up body and soul into Heaven, as she came to the end of her existence here in this world, and went to be reunited with her beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Church has always held the belief and tradition that Mary, by God’s grace, did not suffer the lasting effect of death, and while she did die, but her Son took her up very soon after into His Presence in Heaven.
According to Apostolic tradition, as Mary loved her Son so much, after having lived several more years past the time of her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the great love that Mary had for her Son led her to experience death, sharing the same death that her Son experienced for our sake. And when the time came for her to say goodbye to this world, the Apostles were gathered and asked for Mary’s last blessing, and she entered a sleep of death, and she was placed in the tomb. One tradition stated that because St. Thomas, one of the Apostles could not be there to see Mary one last time, he demanded to see the Mother of God one last time.
When the Apostles and the other assembled disciples opened her tomb, they were all surprised to find that not only that there was no trace of decomposition, but the body of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God herself had disappeared, replaced by a bed of roses. It was evident to all then that because her Son had been triumphant over sin and death, He would not have let her to experience the degradation of death, and took her up into Heaven, body and soul. And that is the story of how the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and its equivalent in the Eastern Churches, the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin came to be.
The belief in the Assumption comes logically as Mary, the Mother of God is the Mother of the Lord and Saviour of the world, Who had triumphed over sin and death, and as our second reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians had highlighted to us, Christ, Mary’s Son, has conquered and triumphed over death. Sin and death had both been conquered and crushed by the Lord, through His glorious Resurrection. How can it be that Christ saved the world but did not save His own Mother? Surely because of His great love for her, He would have led her away from death and would not allow her to suffer from it? That He Who raised Lazarus and the daughter of the synagogue official could definitely have raised His own Mother to a new life with Him too?
And not only that, but as Mary herself has borne the Lord and Saviour of the world, as highlighted in St. John’s heavenly vision of the end times in the Book of Revelations, our first reading today, and from the account of St. Luke’s Gospel on the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, Mary as the one who bore the Lord Himself inside her womb was hallowed and full of grace, free from sin throughout her life, right from the moment of her conception. This is the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which stated that Mary, by the singular grace of God, had been preserved from the taint of original sin, and full of God’s grace, she remained immaculate and pure throughout her life.
That is essential because the Lord’s Presence could have not tolerated the taint of sin, and as He were to spend the time in the womb of Mary, hence, He could not have been borne through a body tainted by sin. And because Mary was without original sin, and also remained pure and full of grace, free from any sin throughout her life, she did not deserve death at all, because death is the natural consequence of sin. Since Mary did not sin, she could not have been made subject to the punishment due to sin, which is death. That is why the Church believes that Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven, as was right and just for her, and also based on the testimony of the Apostles who witnessed it all.
Then, the Assumption should also not be confused with the Ascension, as the Assumption refers to the moment when Mary was taken up into Heaven by the will of God, by the power of her Son, taking her up body and soul into Heaven to be by His side, while the Ascension refers to the moment when the Lord Himself, the Son of God, by His own power and will, ascended into Heaven to return to His Throne and rightful place. There now the Lord reigns over us, with His mother Mary by His side, and her always interceding and praying for our sake. She has always watched over us all these while, and has always shown concern over us, falling ever so frequently again and again into sin.
Through the Assumption, first of all, we have the assurance that Mary is there in Heaven, by the side of the Lord, her own beloved Son, as our greatest ally and help in the battle against the forces of evil surrounding us and desiring our destruction. Through her constant intercession, Mary helped us all to get closer to God and helped to open the gates of God’s ever generous mercy towards us. She herself has also appeared in many well-known occasions, at Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima and elsewhere, calling on all the faithful children of God to turn back towards the Lord and repent from our sins.
Then, Mary’s own faith in the Lord, her commitment and total surrender to God, her willingness to follow the Lord and to obey His will completely in her life, carrying out her calling from the beginning to the end as the Mother of God, caring for her Son and loving Him, following Him even to the foot of the Cross, all these dedication should inspire each one of us in our own faith in God. Through Mary’s examples, we should be inspired to lead an ever worthy life that is full of faith and dedication to Him. We should do our very best to make sure that our every actions, words and deeds, every moments of our lives be worthy of God.
Mary’s Assumption into Heaven also gave us all a glimpse of our own fate in the end, if we choose to remain faithful to God, just as her own Son’s Transfiguration a few days ago had shown us as well. In the end of time, after the Final Judgement, all of us will rise up body and soul to be reunited with God, and to enjoy forever an eternity of true bliss and happiness. However, we have to be faithful to God and to be judged worthy of Him, or else we will end up in the eternity of suffering instead in the eternal damnation. The Lord has given us many opportunities and chances, and He has reached out to us generously with love, so that we may find our way to Him, and His blessed Mother Mary has shown us the most direct and surest path to Him.
May all of us draw ever closer to God, in each and every moments and opportunities available to us. May He empower each one of us to live ever more faithfully and with greater conviction and commitment from now on, following the examples of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, who we remember of today in her glorious Assumption into Heaven. Holy Mary, Mother of God, gloriously assumed and taken up to Heaven, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.