Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Rv 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab / Ps 45 / 1 Cor 15:20-27 / Lk 1:39-56
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is an old story about a workman on scaffolding high above the nave of a cathedral. He looked down and saw a woman praying before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a joke, the workman whispered, “Woman, this is Jesus.” But the woman ignored him.
So the workman whispered again more loudly, “Woman, this is Jesus.” But the woman still ignored him.
Finally, he said aloud, “Woman, don’t you hear me? This is Jesus.”
At this point the woman looked at the crucifix and said, “Be still now, Jesus; I’m talking to your mother.”
Brothers and Sisters, why do Catholics treasure Marian devotions and doctrines that their non-Catholic brothers and sisters do not? It is because the Catholic Church is trying to tell the full story; to proclaim the full gospel.
But the next question is: Isn’t the Gospel all about Christ and what He did and taught? The answer is “yes and no.” The Gospel is about Christ in the same way that the story of the Fall is about Adam. As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians (15:22), “For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.”
That is why we call Christ the “new Adam.” But as soon as we say that, we become aware of a missing link. The story of the Fall is not only about Adam, but about Adam and Eve. If Jesus is the new Adam, who, then, is the “new Eve”? I’m sure you know the answer: The new Eve is Mary. Just as the full story of the Fall cannot be told without Eve, so also the story of our redemption cannot be told without Mary.
There are many revealing parallels between the old Adam and Eve, on the one hand, and the new Adam and Eve, which is Jesus and Mary, on the other hand, and here are some of them:
In the old order, the woman, Eve, came from the body of the man, Adam. But in the new order, the man, Jesus, comes from the body of the woman, Mary.
In the old order, the woman, Eve, first disobeyed God, and then led Adam to do the same. In the new order, the woman, Mary, first said yes to God (Luke 1:38) and raised her son, Jesus, to do likewise.
Adam and Eve had a good time together disobeying God. Jesus and Mary suffered together doing God’s will. The sword of sorrow pierced their hearts equally. (John 19:34, Luke 2:35)
In the old order, Adam and Eve shared immediately in the resulting consequences and punishments of the Fall. In the new order, similarly, both Jesus and Mary shared immediately in the resulting consequences and blessings of the redemption: the fullness of life with God; Jesus, through the Ascension, and Mary, through the Assumption.
The doctrine of the Assumption teaches us that, at the end of her earthly existence, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up, or assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. Therefore, that means there are two human bodies we know to be in Heaven with God at this time: the human body of Jesus, and that of Mary.
We see the cooperation of man and woman in the work of our salvation, all the way from the Fall to the Redemption, to sharing in the fruits of the redemption in Heaven. Without the Assumption to balance the Ascension, the man, Jesus alone, without the woman, Mary, would be enjoying the fullness of the salvation of God, and you would be telling only part of the story. The Assumption is the ultimate proof of the equality of man and woman before God. It also shows the sacredness and eternal destiny of the human body. The Assumption enables us to tell the full story; the full gospel, that salvation is for all people, male and female, and for the whole person, body and soul.
Marian doctrine and devotion, properly understood and practiced, does not lead believers away from, but rather more deeply into, the mystery of Christ. The woman in prayer who thinks that Jesus should keep still, because she is talking with His mother, has lost sight of the perfect harmony of wills and hearts between Mary and Jesus, which we see most clearly in the wedding feast at Cana, when Mary commands us, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.” (John 2:5)
In this feast we glorify everything about Mary and what she did when she was alive. This feast points us to her greatness as a fellow human being, and as the one chosen by God to be the mother of His son. Mary shows us the way. She gives us an example and inspiration to be a good Christian, which brings us to our true home in Heaven.
The Feast of the Assumption is a dogma. That means that it is something we need to believe. Without belief in it, we are not Catholics. As was mentioned by Pope Pius XII, it was not just a decision of the Church hierarchy, it was already true and believed by the faithful. And that is what I mentioned in my last homily about the Church Tradition. These are testimonies that are revealed by God. When something comes from God, we believe. (Pope Pius XII).
When we glorify Mary on this day, we should be aware that the feast cannot stand by itself. The Assumption of Mary was the fulfillment of the promise of the Resurrection. It was due to the death and resurrection of Jesus that we have the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the end, the feast is also the glorification of Jesus, the Son of God.
Hope, we must. Hope, we have. Hope fulfilled. Thanks to the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, we have Heaven as our home.