Sunday, 15 August 2021 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Sunday, 15 August 2021 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

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, 15 August 2021 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 20-27

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. As Scripture says : God has subjected everything under His feet.

When we say that everything is put under His feet, we exclude, of course, the Father, Who subjects everything to Him. As Scripture says : God has subjected everything under His feet. When we say that everything is put under His feet, we exclude, of course, the Father, Who subjects everything to Him.

Sunday, 15 August 2021 : 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.

Saturday, 14 August 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Saturday, 14 August 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 54b-57

When our mortal being puts on immortality, the word of Scripture will be fulfilled : Death has been swallowed up by victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?

Sin is the sting of death, to kill, and the Law is what gives force to sin. But give thanks to God, Who gives us the victory, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Saturday, 14 August 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 6-7, 9-10, 13-14

Then came the news, “The Ark is in Ephrata, we found it in the fields of Jaar.” Let us go to where He dwells and worship at His footstool!

May Your priests be arrayed in glorious mantle; may Your faithful ones shout in gladness. For the sake of Your servant, David, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.

For YHVH has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling : “This is My resting place forever; this I prefer; here, will I dwell.”

Saturday, 14 August 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Chronicles 15 : 3-4, 15-16 and 1 Chronicles 16 : 1-2

Then David gathered all Israel together in Jerusalem to bring the Ark of God up to the place he had prepared for it. David called together the sons of Aaron and the sons of Levi. And the Levites carried the Ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had ordered according to the command of YHVH.

David then told the leaders of the Levites to assign duties for some Levites to sing and play a joyful tune with their various musical instruments : harps and lyres and cymbals. They brought the Ark of God in and put it inside the tent that David had prepared for it; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.

And when David had finished offering the sacrifices, he blessed the people in the Name of YHVH.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.