August 11, 2010 // Uncategorized
Eternal life awaits those who love the Lord
Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Book of Revelation is the source of the first reading on this feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Catholics remember Revelation by its more historic name, at least in Catholic biblical translations, of Apocalypse. Protestant editions long ago began to entitle this book Revelation, and this name has become more popular. Now it even appears in Catholic translations of the Scriptures.
However, Apocalypse is a better term, in that it describes the style of literature. It indeed is Apocalypse, a highly symbolic, poetic way of writing.
Unfortunately, the magnificence, and hopefulness, of the Book of Revelation too often is obscured by an uninformed, and often outlandish, misreading of this book as if it were all about doom and gloom.
In any case, this book looks to the present, but with a strong glance to the future. It speaks of the battles between good and evil, between God and the forces of sin. It speaks in the sense that the Redeemer has come, but redemption is still being achieved. It speaks with an awareness of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, life over death, and God over sin and despair. Good always prevails.
In this reading the “woman clothed with the sun” is actually the Church, the virgin bride of Christ. The very light of God envelops the Church. Twelve stars, perhaps representing the holy Apostles, surround her head. Nature, represented by the moon, is at her feet.
Christians over the years also have seen Mary, the mother of Jesus, in this description. Ever virtuous and faithful, assumed into heaven, brilliant in her holiness, Mary stands before us as a “woman clothed with the sun,” living in the very heavens themselves.
St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is the source of the second reading. It recalls that Christ has been raised from the dead. But, Christians loyal to Christ also will be raised from everlasting death. Actually, when the material world will cease, the eternal world of God will endure. There the faithful Christians will live, with Christ, forever.
For its last reading on this feast, the Church presents the Gospel of Luke, and this Gospel’s magnificent recollection of the prayer spoken by Mary herself as she arrived at the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah. It is the “Magnificat.”
This passage reveals much about Mary. First, it shows her as the human mother of the Son of God. Second, it reveals her holiness. Mary knew her calling. She knew the divine identity of her unborn child. She prays.
Mary is part of God’s historic unfolding of salvation, first offered long ago through Abraham, Moses and the prophets. She is the final, and most important, solely human instrument in the fulfillment of Redemption.
This weekend, the Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.
Pope Pius XII infallibly declared this belief to be an essential part of Catholic theology in 1954. However, the origins of this doctrine go to the earliest days of Christianity.
The assumption ultimately illustrates Mary’s uniquely privileged position in the unfolding of salvation. From her, the Redeemer acquired human nature, and only from her. Thus, she was indispensable to the Incarnation, a miracle essential to redemption itself.
Furthermore, she was the holiest and most perfect of humans, “full of grace,” to quote Luke’s Gospel. She literally was the first Christian, both in chronology and in the perfection of her virtue.
Fittingly, she received the reward of spiritual and bodily resurrection.
These readings remind us all that eternal life, and indeed resurrection of the body and soul, await those who truly love the Lord. One day, if we follow Christ, we too will be assumed into heaven.
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