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.

Thursday, 15 August 2019 : 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 as a whole universal Church, the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Most holy Mother of God. On this day we commemorate the moment when Mary was raised to the glory of heaven, in body and soul, by the grace of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This Solemnity of the Assumption has its parallel in our Eastern Christian brethren in the Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin.

This Assumption of Mary into heaven refers therefore to the taking up of Mary, God’s own beloved mother, into heaven directly in the whole of her being, body and soul. There are those who according to the various traditions ascribed Mary having gone to ‘sleep’ and was reunited with her Son in the heavenly glory He has prepared for her, and also those who ascribed her disappearing from this world for she has been taken up body and soul into heaven.

But the key message and consideration in this great celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption is the fact that Mary has been saved from death, unlike other men and women, all of us who have to face death at the appointed time, time which we will never know, a time of God’s choosing and will, the moment when we end our worldly existence and move on into the life that is to come and give an account of our life before God.

And death, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, is the sting of sin. It means that because of sin, which is itself caused by disobedience against the will of God and against His laws and commandments, have caused us to suffer the consequence that is death, the ending of our mortal and worldly existence in this world. That is just also because life is a gift from God to us, and sin makes us to be separated from God.

Thus, because of our sins, death is a natural consequence of our disobedience against God, and hence all of us are mortal, will eventually face death in the face. However, what if someone is so virtuous and great, and so pure and immaculate so as to be worthy of God and to escape death altogether? Is that possible, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Scripture provides us with an answer, in several individuals known to have been brought up to God without going through death.

First of all from the Book of Genesis we have Enoch, one of the early descendants of Adam who was described as a very virtuous and righteous person who is a friend of God, and after spending three hundred and sixty-five years in this world, was taken up to God’s side, and no longer walked on earth among men. And then we also heard of the prophet Elijah whom God took up into heaven on a flaming chariot in the Book of Kings.

And last and greatest of all, was Mary herself, who by Apostolic tradition of the Church, passed into the realm of eternal glory in the same manner, for among all men and women, surpassing all others, save that of her Son alone, she has been prepared and made worthy to be the one to bear the Saviour of the world and the Master of all the universe in her. And that is why Mary was assumed into heaven and celebrated today in this most Solemn feast of the Assumption.

For we heard in the Scripture reading for the Vigil Mass of the Assumption that the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the city of Jerusalem led by king David, the king of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant is the holiest object and the centre focus of all the whole nation of Israel, because in the Ark of the Covenant was contained the two tablets of the Law of God, the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron used by Moses during the Exodus and the manna, bread from heaven that God has given to His people during that time.

And God’s presence came down frequently on the Ark of the Covenant as mentioned in the Book of Exodus and the subsequent books mentioning about the moments when the Israelites journeyed through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. The Ark of the Covenant occupied the centre place in the entire community at the centre of the Holy Tent of Meeting, as the symbolic representation of God being present in the midst of His people.

That was why the Ark of the Covenant was made from the finest materials, from gold and most precious wood and best of earthly matters available, to be the throne of God Himself on earth among His people. And in one incident just before the Ark was brought into the city of Jerusalem, one of the priests who accidentally touched the Ark during its transfer was struck dead because of the misdeed. All of these served to show just how sacred and great that Ark of the Covenant, the throne of God’s Holy Presence is.

Now, then, let us all compare that old Ark of the Covenant, made by human hands using the best materials that the world can provide, and containing the old Covenant and Law of God as revealed through Moses, with the New Covenant that Christ has brought with Himself into this world, the fullness of the truth of God as He Himself revealed, the fulfilment of the Law and the prophecies of the Lord.

And Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant just as Jesus Christ her Son, our Lord is the New Covenant between us and God. That is why the Church from the time of the Apostles has held and taught the core belief that Mary has always been pure and free from the state of original sin, by the grace of God. She is called the Immaculate Conception because she alone has received the grace to be free entirely from the corruption of sin, and she remained pure throughout her life.

As mentioned earlier, God has made her to be special because she is truly the New Ark of the Covenant which far surpassed the old Ark of the Covenant. Through her, the Lord and Saviour of this world Himself came into this world, Who spent nine months in her womb. If the old Ark contained the tablets of stone of the Law and the bread of manna, then in Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant, was the Law Himself, the complete fullness of the Law and the Bread of Life.

As such, Mary has to be pure and spotless, without the corruption of sin and immaculate, to be the bearer of God Himself in her. For Jesus Christ her Son is not just the Son of Man, but also the Son of God, having in Him the two natures of God and Man. If the old Ark of the Covenant was so sacred, then Mary must indeed be special and sacred as well. And thus, it has implication in what we are celebrating today, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.

That is because at the start of today’s discourse, we mention about death being the sting of sin, meaning that it is because of sin that we have to endure and experience death. But then, Mary is immaculate and free from the taint of original sin, as the Mother of God and the Ark of the New Covenant. How can she then suffer the consequence for sin when she herself was free from the taint of sin throughout her life?

And how can the mother of the Saviour of the world, Who came into this world to deliver us all from the tyranny of sin and death be subjected to the same suffering and the pain of death that her own Son has conquered and triumphed against by His victory on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection from the dead? That is why, we all believe firmly and fervently that Mary truly has been granted the grace by God to pass over death itself and hence was assumed body and soul directly into heaven without experiencing death.

Today, all of us ought to look upon Mary, and see in her the perfect example of who we all as Christians should be in our own lives. Mary has been the faithful servant all her life, not just because she has been set aside by God to be pure and immaculate, free from sin, but even throughout her life, she has loved the Lord so much, and loved her Son with all of her strength, that she continued to live in a state of grace throughout to the moment of the end of her earthly presence at the Assumption.

We see in Mary a reflection of our own glorified persons, as the sure promise of the Lord to us when we are faithful to Him that He will do with us as what He has done with His mother. He has promised us all that all of us who are faithful and worthy will be with Him for eternity, to enjoy forever the true happiness and joy in His presence, and Mary is showing us the way forward to reach this state of grace with her Son.

And she is constantly helping us in reaching out to her Son, by her constant prayers and intercessions for our sake. Now that she is in the glory of heaven by the side of her Son’s Throne, Mary is truly the greatest of all saints, the one who is nearest to Our Lord and Saviour, being concerned all the time for us. For we must not forget that from His Cross, Our Lord has symbolically entrusted Mary to be our mother too through His Apostle St. John, and also vice versa, all of us as her children.

Let us all therefore pray together, brothers and sisters in Christ, and ask Mary, the glorious Mother of God assumed into heaven, to intercede for our sake always before her Son’s Throne, that we may always be persistent and courageous in living our lives with faith. Let us all also follow the examples of Mary’s obedience and faith in God, and be ever closer to her Son through her. May all of us be filled with God’s grace and be worthy of His inheritance. Amen.