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.

Monday, 15 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 19 : 16-22

At that time, it was then that a young man approached Jesus and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” He answered, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? One only is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”

The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour your father and mother; and love your neighbour as yourself.”

The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these commandments. What is still lacking?” Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you possess and give the money to the poor, and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow Me.”

On hearing this answer, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Monday, 15 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

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

Deuteronomy 32 : 18-19, 20-21

They have disowned the Rock Who fathered them; they have forgotten the God Who gave them birth. The Lord saw this, and in His anger rejected His sons and daughters.

He said, “I will hide My face from them and see what will become of them. They are so perverse, so unfaithful! They made Me jealous with their false gods and angered Me with their idols. I will, therefore, make them envious of a foolish people, I will provoke them to anger with an empty-headed nation.

Monday, 15 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

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

Ezekiel 24 : 15-24

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, I am about to suddenly take from you the delight of your eyes, but you are not to lament or weep or let your tears flow. Groan in silence and do not mourn for the dead; wear your turban, put on your sandals, do not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

I spoke to the people in the morning and my wife died that evening. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people said to me : “Explain to us the meaning of your actions.” I said to them, “The word of YHVH came to me in these terms : ‘Say to Israel : I am about to profane My sanctuary, your pride, the delight of your eyes for which you long.”

“The sons and daughters you left behind will also fall by the sword, but you will do as I have done : you will not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners; you will keep your turbans on your heads and sandals on your feet. You will not lament or weep. Instead, because of your sin, you will waste away and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign for you. Do as he did and when this happens you will know that I am YHVH.”

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : 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 together the great feast and solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the glory of Heaven, a great occasion instituted and declared as a dogma of the Faith, by the holy and pious Pope Pius XII in the year 1950, just about a century after another dogma declared the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that Mary was prepared beforehand by God to be special, to be beyond and above all other men and women, in that she was conceived without any taints of original sin, which has tainted all other mankind ever since sin entered into the hearts of men since the days of Adam and Eve and their disobedience.

Understanding what Immaculate Conception is, and what the meaning of the Assumption is, tied with the role that Mary played in the whole plan of God’s salvation of mankind is important if we are to appreciate how significant the things that we are celebrating today are. And as Christians, truly, we have to appreciate what Mary as the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, had done.

The Assumption refers to the moment when Mary was taken up into heaven and did not suffer a bodily death on earth. Our fellow brethren in the Eastern Orthodox Church had a similar belief in what is called the Dormition of the Theotokos, as in their tradition, Mary as the mother of God fell into a deep sleep at the end of her earthly life and was taken up into the glory of heaven.

But all these speak about the same thing, that the mother of God did not suffer from an earthly death of the body, but instead was taken up directly by God into the glory of heaven. And lest all those who misunderstood the intention of this event and those who misunderstood the role of Mary complained that we glorified her too much or even accused us of making a deity or a goddess out of her, then we should know more about how Mary is special and so important in the role she played in ensuring our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the readings of the Sacred Scriptures today, we should see how many of them speak about the Ark of the Covenant of God. It was told in our first reading, from the Book of Chronicles, about the moment when king David wanted to transfer the Ark of God, or the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem.

Festivities, songs and dances were prepared, and a grand welcome was planned to bring in the Ark of the Covenant into the city. And why is that so? Because the Ark of the Covenant is a grand golden vessel containing the two slabs of stone upon which God Himself had touched and on which He had written the Law and the Covenant which He had established with His people. It is a representative of God’s very Presence in this world.

But how does that then relate to Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ? That is because if we know Who Christ is, then certainly we can make that clear link between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, Mary indeed is also the Ark of the Covenant, as she bore within her the New Covenant of God with mankind, that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world in order to save the world and right all the wrongs and faults which was in this world. Mankind had erred and through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, they had brought the sundering and the separation between us and God. According to St. Paul, through the act of one man, the whole race of men had been brought low by sin and had to suffer and die. But through the act of another Man, they all have been brought into a new life in God.

And that Man was Jesus Christ, the One Who had been born through the virgin, Mary, His mother, that by His works, He may bring all mankind back into the loving embrace of God. Through Jesus, a new covenant between God and mankind had been established, while the old covenant had passed away. The old covenant God made with mankind had expired and been replaced anew with one that will last forever.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not the same as the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the first place, we are not making Mary to be a goddess or a deity on her own right. Jesus ascended by His own power and might, but Mary was brought up by God into heaven through His will to grant her the singular grace to escape the snares of death. She alone among all mankind not to suffer death.

And why is this so, brethren? That is because as the vessel bearing the Lord of life and He Who have mastered and conquered death, it does not seem appropriate if then His own mother would succumb to it, as death is the consequence for sin, and for someone who has been conceived without the taints of original sin, that is the blessed mother of our Lord, Mary, it is appropriate that our Lord rewarded her with such a privilege.

But in the end, how are all these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because we know for sure that Jesus our Lord would not let His mother to suffer death or in any sense, any form of earthly and bodily decay, so thus He will also endeavour to bring us all into the salvation and liberation which He alone can bring unto us. For in Mary we have seen the fullness of God’s faithful promises to us mankind, that He will deliver us all from the snares of sin and from the sting of sin, that is death.

Yet, all these will also require our dedication and commitment. We cannot truly receive the fullness of God’s promise and God’s salvation if we ourselves are the ones who place the barriers and obstacles on our path to attain God’s mercy and grace. God offers us His mercy and forgiveness freely, but we shall find that we are ourselves our greatest enemy. It is our reluctance, our lack of desire to be forgiven, that lack of the sense of regret for our sins that have caused us to remain trapped within that quagmire of sin.

And lastly, we have that one great helper and a source of inspiration to depend on, as we make this journey of faith towards God. Mary herself is our greatest help and our great protector before her Son, our Lord. She is in heaven, interceding for our sake daily, praying for us and for all the beleaguered children of God, whom God had entrusted to her care from the cross.

On this day of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us renew our devotion to the Lord our God through His blessed mother Mary, who has shown us the way forward, by following her examples, faith and piety that we too may receive the same glory which had been accorded to her. We too shall share in the joy of heaven and in the eternal life promised by God to all of His faithful ones. All that we need to do is to really devote ourselves, our time and our efforts in order to serve the Lord our God and follow Him with all of our strength.

May God bless us all and keep us, and may His mercy be poured down upon us, and through His blessed mother Mary, whom we remember today in her glorious Assumption into heaven, let us all look up to her as the great model for our own, and thus we will be more able to proceed forward to the goal of our life, that is to be reunited with God, our loving Lord and Creator at the end of it all. Let us all seek the Lord through Mary, His beloved mother. Mary, Blessed Mother of God assumed into heaven, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

At that time, 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, 14 August 2016 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 20-26

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.