On August 15th the Church solemnly celebrates the Assumption of the Mother of God. The Assumption of the Mother of God is the awe filled event (a revelation) in which at the end of the course of her earthly life, Christ’s mother passed both body and soul into the reality of heaven. This truth of the Catholic Faith was defined as a dogma in a rare exercise of the Bishop of Rome’s infallible magisterium by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
The Assumption does not mean that the Mother of God is divine or was made divine by a declaration of the pope. Christ’s mother is human through and through. It means that the fullness of the promises of the redemption of Christ have been accomplished for her. As Christ’s mother is now in heaven, we hope to be.
The mystery of the Assumption is illuminated by the Scriptures the Church assigns to be proclaimed at the Mass offered today.
First, an excerpt from the New Testament Book of Revelation likens the Mother of God to the Ark of the Covenant. Remember, the Ark of the Covenant was a container created by the Israelites as a receptacle for the tablets of the Law of Moses, the scepter of Aaron the priest and the heavenly bread called Manna.
The identity and mission of the Mother of God is suggested by the symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant. The body of Christ’s mother is likened to the Ark of the Covenant, for in her womb gestated God in Christ who is the New Law, the great High Priest, and the Heavenly Bread of Life.
Also, from the Book of Revelation, the identity and mission of the Mother of God is suggested by the great sign of the “woman clothed with the sun with the moon beneath her feet.” The cosmic symbols of light, sun and moon are all gesturing towards the Mother of God- she, like the moon, reflects of light of her Divine Son- Jesus Christ. In the radiance of the Mary’s reflected light, we see the glory of God in Christ.
The 12 stars which crown the head of the woman clothed with the sun indicate the 12 tribes of Israel, indicating the status of Christ’s mother as a faithful daughter of Israel, whom the patriarchs and prophets longed to see.
The dragon indicates the devil and the seven crowns he wears gesture towards his false claims to dominion over the earth. The stars which his beastly tail sweep from the heavens are the fallen angels. The Mother of God is the great enemy of the evil one and her appearance signals his defeat.
The Church also presents a scripture from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
The Apostle Paul gives testimony to our faith in Christ’s resurrection from the dead as a precursor to our own resurrection.
We Christians believe that death has been transformed by God in Christ’s passage through it and has become by his divine power and grace not an end but a beginning. As we pass through death, Christ’s faithful make that passage sharing in the Lord Jesus’ victory over the power of death. The victory of Christ over death is not just about the soul, but also of the body- the resurrection is fulfilled in spirit and in flesh and as such, our bodies, glorified, perfected, restored and redeemed have been created by God so that they can share communion with God in heaven.
The Assumption of the Mother of God reveals the fullness of Christ’s promise of resurrection, a promise made not only to his mother, but to all his faithful disciples.
The Gospel of Luke reveals that the honor given to the Mother of God is a gift, a grace, that is manifested in her obedience to God’s will.
The Mother of God gave herself over to the will and purposes of God and in doing so, she is a model and exemplar of what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus.
The way of a disciple is about giving ourselves over to the will and purposes of God. In doing this, we imitate Christ, who shows the humanity in its perfection is radically obedient to God.
Obedience to God is an act of trust. The Mother of God trusted in God, accepting the totality of her life’s experiences as imbued with the power and presence of God. Her trust was steadfast, even in the face of circumstances that were devastating and difficult, even in the face of death. The Mother of God trusted that God, who did not abandon her Son to the power of Death, would also not abandon her. This fidelity manifested itself in a life-giving fruitfulness that the power of death could not overcome.
May the Mother of God intercede on our behalf. May her witness of obedience inspire us to offer our own lives to Christ in acts of humility and love. May the Assumption of the Mother of God give us hope, that though this earth and all things in it pass away, God remains faithful, and in Christ, he will draw us through death so that we can she fully in the promises of his resurrection.