15 August 2010 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56
Possibilities are fueled by imagination. When we were young, our dreams were patterned from the successful people we encountered. I wanted to become a doctor, because our family doctor was wealthy. His family lived a comfortable life. In second year high school, my Biology grades were among the highest. It encouraged me to pursue the sciences which eventually intensified and confirmed my dream. Having seen many successful doctors and at the same time discovering the abilities needed to become one, I was so sure about the future (until another example replaced it: the priesthood).
This is the same in faith life. The possibility of becoming holy is fired by “the great cloud of witnesses” or the examples of many lives. Hebrews 12, 1-3 says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”
We know that it is possible for sinful human beings to become holy because the proofs are the lives of the saints.
History has it that the former knight, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, has undergone a spiritual conversion while recovering. While wounded from the battle of Pamplona, He has been given only two books available: the Life of Christ (De Vita Christi) by Ludolph of Saxony and the Lives of the Saints. These books has charged his imagination: He would also like to devote his life to God like St. Francis of Assisi and the rest of the saints.
This is the same with the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary. Mary is a human being. As someone like us, she has demonstrated that we can accept the will of God with our whole heart, mind and soul. In the Annunciation of the Nativity of Jesus, she has taken her role to become the mother of Christ. When her time to go has come, God has given her the grace to be assumed, both body and soul, in heaven.
Revelations 12, 1 says in the first reading: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head.”
The same thing is open to us. In the second coming of Jesus, the Assumption of Mary is what awaits those who have lived holy lives. In other words, we will all be assumed into heaven, both body and soul (like Mary) if we have been holy. It is called the “resurrection of the body” in the Creed we recite every Sunday.
The Opening Prayer at mass goes this way: “All powerful and ever-living God, you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.”
Having said that, we have to remember that the Dogma of the Assumption is connected with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the Immaculate Conception, Mary has been freed from the stain of sin in lieu of her role as the mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. And since she has done her job well, she has been rewarded with the Assumption.
We can explain it with an approximate imagery. Since our food should be clean, we have to put it in a vessel that is also clean. Since Jesus is God, God has to place Him in a womb that is also as immaculate as His Son. And so, the Church logically reasons out that Mary has been clean from her birth. This is the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
But Scripture says that death is caused by sin. Conversely, uncorrupted bodies have not been attributed to holiness. Many saints who lived very holy lives have proven that holiness can leave our bodies uncorrupted. Meaning, their bodies have not decomposed. In the Catholic faith, there are more than 250 incorrupt bodies of saints including Sts. Agatha, Catherine of Laboure, Bernadette Soubirous, John Mary Vianney, to name a few.
And so if Mary’s life has been totally freed from original sin (Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception), then she cannot physically die. This has been the reason why we believe that God had given her the grace to be assumed to heaven, not just her soul but including her body.
The question to be raised on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be very simple, but will commit us to the future.
Can you imagine yourself with God? If so, do you want to be united with God in heaven? If yes, then it is pertinent that you begin to walk the steps of holiness.
How? Hebrews will say these: “We shall rid ourselves of our sins that cling to us. We should persevere in running the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus.” If we succeed, we will be a member of the cloud of witnesses who are already united with God. And the state of being with God is called, heaven.