Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, tonight we celebrate the Vigil of the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering the moment when Mary, the Mother of God at the end of her earthly existence, was brought up body and soul into the glory of heaven, what is known as the ‘Assumption’ of Mary. Tonight we celebrate the moment when Mary enter the heavenly glory prepared for her by her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
When we talk of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, sometimes we confuse it with the Ascension of the Lord Jesus. The difference between the two is such that while the Lord ascended into Heaven by His own power, will and might, Mary is assumed into Heaven, by the will and power of God, and not by her own power, will or might. She received this great grace by virtue of her motherhood of the Lord, her being the Mother of God Most High, the Son of God and Saviour of all.
For the Lord Jesus is the conqueror of sin and death, by His suffering and death on the cross, in which He offered Himself as the perfect and loving sacrifice in atonement for our sins and faults. He triumphed over death through His Resurrection, showing that death, which is the consequence of sin, has no more power over us as long as we put our trust in God as Our Lord and Saviour. He has showed us the path forward beyond death and into a new life of eternal glory prepared for us.
And because of this, according to the traditions of the Church from the earliest history and beginning of the Church, Christians have always believed that Mary, the Mother of God, did not suffer death unlike all of us, as after all, how can the Mother of the One Who conquered death and triumphed over it by His resurrection be herself subjected to the same death? This is also linked to the strong belief in Mary’s Immaculate and sinless state, as from the earliest days of the Church, it has also been a belief of the Church that Mary was conceived without sin, the Immaculate Conception, and remained free from sin afterwards.
Mary was unique and special, by the singular grace of God because she was to be the new and infinitely better Ark of the Covenant. And just as the original Ark was crafted from the finest and most precious of earthly materials, thus, the New Ark, of the New Covenant was to be far exceeding the old Ark, by the pure and sinless state of this perfect New Ark, crafted not by the hands of any man, but by the hands of God Himself. Thus, that is why later on the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and in turn the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary came to be formalised by the Church.
The Assumption is a logical outcome of the belief in the Immaculate Conception, again because death is the consequence for sin, and although every man has to suffer death because we have sinned, no matter how small our sins are, but Mary, having been conceived without sin, was never tainted or corrupted by sin at all, and therefore, logically death did not just have any power over her, but she should not suffer death because she never sinned in the first place.
There are two major schools of thought on what exactly happened in the Assumption of Mary into heaven, both with Mary ending up in the glory of Heaven, by the side of her Son, interceding for us as she is still doing to this day. One is that Mary did die, because she shared in the death of her Son, and not death because of the punishment or consequence for her sins, which did not exist. She loved her Son so much that she shared in her Son’s death, but her body did not rot or perish. Rather, she was put to sleep and then, body and soul, assumed into Heaven.
Another school of thought is that, Mary was directly assumed into Heaven, body and soul, without even passing through any form of death at all. But regardless of how exactly the Assumption of Mary happened, the fact is that Mary is now up there in Heaven, having been assumed body and soul, and reigning with her Son as the Queen Mother of Heaven, seated by her Son’s side as His confident and beloved Mother, and as our greatest intercessor.
Through Mary, His mother, the Lord wants to show us and affirm to us that faith in Him will only lead to an eternal glory and a new and eternal life, one that is free from the taints and shackles of sin and death. And through the Assumption, the Lord wants to show us the foretaste of heavenly glory for us, as it is told that in the end of days, all of us will be raised from death, and in body and soul, joining God in the eternity of glory, while those who reject God and His mercy, will be thrown, body and soul into eternal darkness and suffering.
Mary is the shining beacon of hope reminding us all what will happen to those who are virtuous and faithful, as Mary did not just merit this great honour because she is the Mother of God and conceived without sin, but because throughout life she remained free from sin, and completely dedicated to God because of the love she has for Him, obeying His Law, and later on, giving herself completely and committed herself to loving her Son, following Him all the way to the foot of the cross.
How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As I said earlier, God has shown us the sure promise of eternal life, a new life and existence no longer darkened by sin and suffering, filled with true and everlasting joy. However, all of these will only come to be when we follow the Lord and commit ourselves to Him wholeheartedly the way Mary has done in her own life. We can certainly do this if we strive and try our best, but the important question is, are we willing to do it?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we mark the Vigil beginning this great celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, let us all reinspect our lives and look deep into ourselves, into our every actions and how we have lived our faith life all these while. Let us all look forward with hope to our own future entry into the eternal life of glory with God, by taking the concrete steps to live righteously with faith in God just as Mary had done in her own life.
May the Lord be with us and guide us, and through Mary, His mother’s constant intercession and help, more and more of us, the children of mankind, may come closer to God and receive the love and grace of God, and come closer to achieving the desired reconciliation and reunion with God, by which we will forever enjoy the fullness of God’s love. O Mary, Holy Mother of God, assumed in glory, body and soul into Heaven, pray for all of us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.