Dear Followers, since the Feast of the Assumption falls on Saturday most dioceses have declared this day a feast but not a Holy Day of Obligation. Therefore the weekend readings will be the normal readings of the day. This homily is being posted until 3 pm this afternoon when it will be replaced by the weekend homily.
There are many who have trouble with our Marian theology. Yet in Christianity this feast is celebrated by Roman Catholic’s, Eastern Catholic’s, Oriental Orthodoxy and parts of the Anglican Church. What we celebrate is that at the end of Mary’s role on earth she was taken up body and soul into heaven. This is a belief that was universally held by Christians for much of the history of the church. Yet it was not made a formal doctrine of the church until Pious XII decreed it so in 1950.
Where we are challenged on this doctrine is that we cannot point to any particular scripture passage that provides this truth for us. Yet at the same time we have no historical grave marking her burial place so we cannot say definitively if and when Mary died. Also we have no relics of her which would not only confirm her death but would have been the norm for someone of her statue in church salvation history. So many would ask how the church could come up with such a doctrine without any scriptural references and only on the fact that we have no information about her life after Pentecost.
We can point out the fact that others were assumed body and soul into heaven long before Mary. We have Enoch who “…walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”. Paul expounds on this event in his letter to the Hebrews. Paul wrote “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb. 11:5).
Certainly all Christians would easily say that Mary was pleasing to God. Even God in his word tells us that all generations will call her blessed. If Enoch whom we know nothing more about than he was ‘assumed” into heaven because he was pleasing to God then why is it hard to conclude that Mary was equally taken to God. Is it hard to conclude that God’s chosen mother for Jesus would also be assumed into heaven? After all we do have another scripture reference of her in heaven. We have a vision given to us by John in his revelation of a new heaven and a new earth. He tells of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head”(Rev. 12:1). All Christianity agrees this woman described by John is Mary. But is it a reference to her actual body and soul that John sees or is it something else? We simply cannot say this with certainty until we get to see her ourselves. In the meantime we do accept by faith the fact she was assumed into heaven.
We also have another assumption in scripture that shows us that being assumed into heaven does and did occur. Elijah was taken up into heaven body and soul. 2 Kings 2:11 tells us, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” His role on earth had ended so he was taken to heaven.
Sounds familiar, with the resurrection of Jesus and with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s role in salvation history was concluded. So is it a stretch to believe that Mary was assumed body and soul to heaven? Not in my opinion but honestly if someone disagrees with the theology I do not believe they will have any theological problems when they find Mary body and soul in heaven. So let’s not debate theology let’s focus on Mary’s role in salvation history and why she is blessed among all Christianity.
She said yes to God’s will even when she could not even understand how any of it could happen. Paul calls Abraham the father of faith because he believed that even if he sacrificed his son God would raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-18). Mary could be called our Mother of faith because she also believed that her son would rise from the dead. Her faith in God was strong enough that she knowingly facing death said yes to God.
So here is a question for us on this feast. Do we trust God enough to say yes to his will? Do we even ask God his will as we make decisions’ for our lives? Jesus in Matthew tells us “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father…is mother to me” (Mt. 12:50). You and I have an opportunity to bring Christ to the world just as Mary brought Jesus to the world. We like Mary can experience deep intimacy with Christ just as Mary did. Each of us can and should consider not just Mary as something special but how each of us is special in God’s eyes. Like Mary let us rejoice in God our Savior and let our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Mary is not only praying for us she has shown us the way by submitting to will of Christ and her reward is life with Christ. Let us do the same.