Tuesday, 15 August 2017 : 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 a great feast and solemnity of the Church, honouring the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, most holy and ever virgin, the one whom God had entrusted to be the one to bear the Saviour of the world, and therefore, she was special among every other human beings, as one set aside by God to be the instrument of His salvation through Jesus Christ, her Son.

We must be wondering why is it that we as Catholics and as Christians celebrate and honour Mary as such? Why is it that we glorify her above every other human beings, even though she herself is also a human just like us? There are many out there who because of their misunderstandings and lack of knowledge about what we truly believe, about Mary and many other tenets of our faith, had criticised the holy Catholic faith, charging us falsely with idolatry of Mary.

Yet, if one truly understands what our faith is really about, they will indeed immediately see the errors of their ways and beliefs, and turn themselves to our faith. They will give honour to Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ as we all have done. That is not because we glorify her as an equal to God or as a goddess in her own right, but rather because of her position as the mother of our Lord, God and Saviour.

In the historical times, especially from the traditions of the kingdom of Israel, the position of the mother of the king of Israel is a significant one, as what is also common in the other kingdoms and states in history. The queen mother has a significant place of honour, not because of her own authority and power, but because she is the mother of the king, the one who bore the king into the world, and the one who took care of the growth of the king.

If we honour our own mother, love her, and are grateful for all that she has done for us, in bringing us up, caring for us, and if we want to thank her and give her the best that we can give her, then it is the same case for the king, as shown in the time of the old kingdom of Israel, particularly shown as Solomon, the king, honoured his mother, Bathsheba greatly and put her place in a position of honour just beside his throne.

And thus, in the same manner, is it not then the same for the mother of our Lord and God, the King of all kings and the Master of the entire universe? Surely the Lord Jesus also honours His mother just as all of us honour our own mothers, and surely He has also given her a position of honour in heaven, close to His own throne, just as the kings of the ages past and the kings of Israel had honoured their own mothers?

This is the first reason why we celebrate this day, to honour the Mother of our God. However, that is not the only and main reason why we honour Mary. Indeed, on this day, the Scripture passages from the Vigil Mass and today's Mass focus on the role that Mary played as the bearer of the Messiah and the bearer of the One Who has established a new Covenant between God and mankind, sealed by His loving sacrifice on the cross.

Therefore, as the bearer of the Lord Jesus, the New Covenant He had established with us mankind, Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, just as the first Ark of the Covenant bore inside it the Covenant of God, in the form of His laws, passed down through Moses, the manna that is the symbol of God's love in feeding His people throughout their journey through the desert. And in Jesus, is found God's laws and love personified, for He is the Law and He is Love.

If we read the Scriptures at the time of the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant is a very precious and holy container of God's Law, which mortal eyes cannot ordinarily look upon or touch with bare hands, such that it was veiled from sight by a veil, and carried upon its poles to avoid touching the Ark directly. The Ark itself represents God's holy Presence in this world, and therefore, in the Temple of Jerusalem, it is placed in the innermost and holiest of all its places, the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, that is why the Lord created His Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as holy and precious, because she bore in her womb, in her very own body, the New Covenant of God, in Jesus Christ. And there lies not the two slabs of rock on which God wrote His Law, but the Law Himself, for God Himself had taken the flesh of Man, and descended into this world, the Real Presence of His Being in this world, contained within the womb of Mary, who therefore became the New Ark.

That was why Mary was conceived without the taint of original sin, immaculate and pure, set aside from among all the other mankind. For the original Ark was made by human hands using the precious metals and materials adorning the container of God's original Covenant. But, there can be no better Ark than the creation of God, perfect and good, as all of us humans have been crafted by none other than God Himself.

It was just that we have been tainted and corrupted by sin, and we have been made unworthy by those wickedness and sins. That is the reason why God, accordance to our faith and belief, as per the knowledge passed down to us from the time of the Apostles, created Mary immaculate and free from those sins, making her the perfect vessel for the Messiah and Saviour, Lord of lords and King of kings, as the Ark of the New Covenant.

That is thus the second reason why we honour Mary, as the greatest of all the saints and all human beings, that while she is still human and not divine, yet, because of her special place in the story of our salvation, she deserves the honour being not just the Mother of God, but also because of the virtue of that position, also the new Ark, of the New Covenant of God in Jesus Christ.

And Mary remained true and righteous throughout her life, living in accordance with what the Lord commanded and willed her to do. She submitted humbly to the will of God, made known to her through the Archangel Gabriel in Nazareth, and become therefore the Mother of God by her humble acceptance. And she walked faithfully, caring for her Son, and following Him even to the foot of the cross, seeing Him as He laid there, hung on the cross, dying for the sake of us all mankind.

Mary therefore, as I have just mentioned, is the greatest of all the saints, and is our greatest intercessor in heaven. She is also our role model in life, an example for us to follow in faith and in how we ought to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. This is all the more reason why we love Mary, and why we honour her, just as her own Son loved her and honoured her greatly.

And because of that, we come to the reason why we rejoice and celebrate in today's Solemnity, that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. First of all, we must be clear at what the Assumption is truly about. The Assumption does not equate with the Ascension of our Lord Jesus, a common misconception had by many, as in the Ascension, our Lord ascended in His own glory and by His own power into heaven, while in the Assumption, by the grace of God, Mary was assumed or taken up into heaven, in the body and soul.

The reason for the Assumption is none other than because all mankind have suffered death as a consequence for their sins and wickedness, and there is no one who can escape death. And while Christ is without sin, He willingly accepted death to free all of us mankind from the threat of eternal death, through His sacrifice on the cross.

And because He wanted to free mankind from death caused by their sins and their disobedience, it is only proper and right that He would want His own mother, who was conceived without sin, and had been righteous throughout her whole life, and as the holy Ark of the New Covenant, to be free from death, and not to fall into the same death that had claimed many others because of their sins. And hence, He gave her the grace, to be assumed body and soul into heaven, at the end of her earthly life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Himself also said that the same thing will happen to us at the end of time, at the time of the Last Judgment when all of us will be brought up, in our glorified body and soul, into the eternal glory of heaven with God. Thus, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Assumption today, it is also a foreshadowing of what will happen to us in the end, should we walk faithfully in the presence of God, and live in accordance with His will just as Mary had done.

On this joyful day, therefore, as we rejoice together with the whole Church, and honour the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all renew our commitment to live in accordance with the will of God, imitating the examples shown upon us by Mary herself, in how she devoted her whole life and committed herself thoroughly to the Lord, no matter what difficulties and challenges she had to face, even the pain and sorrow of seeing her own Son being tortured and crucified.

Let us all change our lives and turn ourselves completely to the Lord, shedding off our sinful ways of life and all the wickedness and selfishness we have committed in life thus far, so that we may truly be worthy of the Lord, and in the end, we will also be worthy of living an eternity of joy and happiness, when the Lord will bring us up in body and soul to His heavenly glory at the end of time.

Let us ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, she who has been assumed into heaven, and upon whom the Lord had bestowed the honorary title of the Queen of Heaven, the queen mother of all the universe, for she is indeed the closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, and as she had made known to us through her various apparitions, she is always constantly praying for us, for all of us sinners still living in this world. O Blessed Virgin Mary, Assumed into your glory in heaven, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, 15 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, honouring that moment when Mary, the mother of God, was bodily assumed or brought up directly to the presence of God in heaven, in glorious reward for the faith that she had exhibited and professed her whole life, and for her special role as the Bearer of the Saviour of the world.

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, as she bore within her the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that He has established anew with us. And so sacred is the Holy Ark that is Mary, exemplary in her faith and commitment to God, that God would not want her to suffer the pain of death, which is the consequence for sin. For she was conceived and prepared into the world without sin, and then throughout her life, she had obeyed and followed the Lord in all of His plans for the world and for all mankind, and thus, she deserved that glory which her Son had prepared for her.

And through her, all of us can see the premonition and the preview for our own fate, that is our salvation and the eternal life we can find only in the Lord alone. Mary showed unto us how all of us ought to believe in the Lord, not just in externals and appearances alone, but also deep in the heart and through concrete actions and devotions, by the outpouring of our love and our care for those who are less fortunate and those who are unloved around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what Jesus meant when He told the young man in the Gospel today, of what he needed to do in order to fully follow the Lord in all of His ways. The young man had fulfilled and followed the whole laws of Moses, obeyed the commandments that God had given His people, but yet, he still had that question burning inside of him, as he felt that he still lacked something in him.

And that is because he was still not truly having the Lord inside of him. He has done all the laws and obeyed all the commandments, but do you know that it is possible for one to obey the laws and commandments of God and yet have no God in them? Of course the young man did not do so badly as that. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done exactly that.

These people obeyed the Law and appeared to follow the commandments of God, appearing pious and devout while at the same time having no love for God in their hearts. It is indeed possible for this to happen, as doing them as a routine and doing them genuinely with true love and devotion for God are two sides of the same coin. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did theirs as a routine, and also as a means to garner favour and popularity with the people instead of for the Lord as the Law had intended.

And thus, this is where we should look up to Mary as our example. She placed her full trust in the Lord, even when she knew that the path forward for her would not be an easy one. She let the Lord to bring her to where He wanted her to be. And as the mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord, she devoted herself entirely to Him, giving Him the love that all mothers ought to give their children and even more.

Imagine the pain and sorrow she must have faced while following her Son through all the challenges and the difficulties He faced, and more than all these, was when He walked through the way of the Passion, carrying and bearing His cross through Jerusalem and up the hill to Calvary, where He was crucified, suffered and died for the sake of all.

Yet, through all these, Mary remained faithful and stayed truly faithful to the mission which God had entrusted her. And thus, she became our guiding light, the beacon to lead us to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through her we can find the best way that leads directly to God and to His salvation. As she was free from the abominable effects of sin, thus it was befitting for her to also escape the sting of sin, that is death.

Yes, we mankind have sinned before God, some small while others had bigger sins. But nevertheless, all of us have disobeyed God and refused to walk in His ways, resulting in sin that leads eventually to death. Yet, our Lord Himself by His glorious resurrection from the dead had shown us that there is a way out of death, that is if we are all faithful to God, and this is affirmed further by the example of Mary, who was brought into the heavenly glory, free from sin.

By sharing in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ through baptism, all of us have been freed from the taint of our original sins. And if we are to believe in Him with all of our heart and devote ourselves completely to Him, then we too shall share the joy of Mary, the joy of the Assumption, as the Lord Himself has promised that all of His faithful ones will not suffer eternal death, but instead receive the eternal life and glory promised to all of the holy people of God, to be forever with Him in heaven.

May the Lord help us, through the guidance and the intercession of His blessed mother Mary, the role model that He had set up for us, so that through her we may be better able to find our way to Him, and thus receive the eternal life and inheritance He has allotted for us all. May God bless us all, and let us all ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, assumed in glory to heaven, to pray for us all at all times. Amen.