FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ABC)
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6.10 | Psalm 45:10-12,16 | 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 | Luke 1:39-56
Jesus was standing over the woman caught in adultery and challenged the crowd that “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Suddenly, a stone propelled into the air and hits the back of his head. Jesus turns and exclaims, “Mom, please mind your own business!”
Today, we give thanks to God for the great honor bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary being assumed — body and soul — into heaven at the end of her earthly life. We're all going to die someday. It's inevitable. As sure as you were born to walk this earth, you'll also depart it and there's only one way to do that. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 6:23 that death is the result of sin. Our Blessed Mother experienced death too — but not as penalty for sin but in conformity to her son, who willingly experienced death on our behalf. One of the consequences of original sin is the corruption of the body (see CCC, 400; Genesis 3:19). Mary was immaculately conceived and remained sinless throughout her life therefore it is fitting that she, like her son, would not experience such bodily corruption. Our Blessed Mother experienced the resurrection and glorification of her body at the moment her earthly life ended.
Many years ago, a young mother was making her way on foot across the hills of South Wales, carrying her infant son. A blinding blizzard overtook the pair, and the mother never reached her destination. When the blizzard subsided, searchers found her lifeless body beneath the snow with the baby snuggled beneath her, warm and alive. She had wrapped her outer clothing and scarf around the boy and then covered him with her own body. That baby grew up to be David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister and one of England’s greatest statesmen.
The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is a chest that held tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments, manna, and the rod of Aaron, the first high priest. After John sees the Ark of the Covenant in heaven in our First reading he sees another vision: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. The woman in John’s vision was pregnant and giving birth to a male child and at the same time a dragon was waiting to do harm to the child but both the mother and child were spared by divine intervention. A better way to understand John’s vision is that the woman is Mary, the Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament. The contents of the original Ark of the Covenant prefigure Mary who bore within her womb Jesus: Word of God, Bread of Life and the High Priest.
On May 25, 2017, during the Siege of Marawi, a woman by the name of Sandra Cruz received the worst call of her life. Her son, Samuel Cruz, Private First Class, had stood on a live grenade and was dead. For the next three days she grieved. No one could comfort her. On the third day after receiving the terrible news, the phone rang. On the other end of the phone there was a voice that said, “Mama, it’s me. I’m alive.” At first Sandra thought it was a cruel joke, but as the conversation continued, she realized it was her son. Later she said she laughed and cried and rejoiced because what seemed to be a hopeless situation turned out to be the greatest day of her life. That’s what news from a graveyard can do for you when you hope in the Lord.
Some Christians in the noisy and out of control community of Corinth disputed the gospel teaching about the resurrection. The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, corrected them at length by connecting the resurrection of all the dead with God's final judgment of the world. He authoritatively declares that Jesus has been raised from the dead. His resurrection is the pledge that we will also rise from the dead. Death does not end life; another act follows. Therefore, our life in this world must be lived in the perspective of the life to come. All the great treasures in heaven will be available to us, provided we if we persevere as faithful disciples of Christ. Mary was blessed to be spoken to by God and blessed to bring the Son of God to us. She was also the most important disciple of Jesus. She was with Jesus from the beginning, following him in all of his works, believing in everything he did. She never abandoned him. Since one of the blessings promised to all faithful disciples is victory over death, it is fitting that Mary, who is the first and model disciple of Christ, would be the first to receive this blessing. We believe that the privilege of resurrection promised to all faithful Christians was given first to Mary and in a totally unique way. Today in Our Lady’s Assumption we see the hope that is to come. Her assumption offers the rest of God’s children hope in our own bodily resurrection at the end of our days.
A politician visited a village and asked what their needs were. "We have two basic needs sir," replied the villager. "Firstly, we have a hospital, but there's no doctor." On hearing this, the politician whipped out his cellphone, and after speaking for a while he reassured the village leader that the doctor would be there the next day. He then asked about the second problem. "Secondly sir, there is no cellphone coverage anywhere in this village."
One of the most beloved prayers we find in the New Testament is the Magnificat, in which Our Lady begins with, "Oh, how my soul magnifies the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!.” Mary proclaims her own blessedness for all generations in the Magnificat. God has paid attention to her, has been mindful of her. She is the littlest of the little people, being a yet-unmarried young teenage girl from an insignificant town. Yet the Lord has noticed her; he has looked with care and attentiveness on her humble state. Unlike our politicians who would promise to lower down the price of rice to P20 per kilo, God makes a promise and he keeps it. In return, let us be faithful to use the blessings he gives us to change our lives for eternity. God is our one comfort, our hope, our treasure, and our promised victory! Remind your heart on a daily basis of his faithfulness and with Mary proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Regina in cælum assumpta, ora pro nobis!
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum