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The Solemnity of the Assumption

The “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” celebrates the reality that Mary at the end of her earthly life was taken up to heaven body and soul. I have met people who thought the word “Assumption” is being used here because we are “not sure” if Mary was taken to heaven and so we are “Assuming”. This is not the context in which this word “Assumption” is being used here. The Word “Assumption” is being used here as opposed to “Exhuming”.  Just as in exhuming, bodies are taken out of a grave, in assuming, bodies are taken upwards to heaven.

The first reading for this day, Rev 11:19, 12:1-6, 10 talks about the sanctuary of the Lord that opened and the arch of the covenant could be seen in it. The arch of the covenant refers to the wooden box in which the Ten Commandments (the old covenant) were kept. Mary is referred to as the arch of the covenant (as you might remember in the litany), because she became the box containing Jesus (the new covenant).

The image of the woman adorned with the sun giving birth in front of a red scary dragon, is a pointer to Mary giving birth to infant Jesus whose life was threatened by Herod who wanted to kill him. It also figuratively reflects how the church gives birth to new Christians through baptism, but the red dragon, the anti-Christ and all enemies of Christ are out to eliminate them.

The passage ends by saying that the child was taken to God and the woman too was taken away by God to the desert where God had prepared her a place. This is the allusion to Mary’s Assumption already. She would not be left by God or abandoned by God to experience decay here on earth.

The Second reading, 1Cor15:20-27, talks about Christ as the first fruit from the resurrection, then after him, those who belonged to him. Mary was a close follower of Christ too, and so she would follow in the footsteps of Christ who also went to heaven.

The Gospel, LK1:39-56, captures Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and what transpired when they met. Mary, even after knowing that she was mother of God, retained her humility that led her to volunteer to visit Elizabeth and help her till the birth of John the Baptist. Many times great success, makes people proud and arrogant, but Mary has taught the world the road of humility, a very holy thing to do. So in a nutshell the gospel is highlighting another reason why Mary deserved this special treatment of Assumption, she was a very holy and humble woman.

The lesson in all these for us is that we embrace Mary’s holiness and humility so that we too can be honoured one day by God with the gift of eternal life.

Fr. Dan Orema

Assistant Spiritual Director (LAU)