Sunday: THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. Date: August 15, 2016 Year: C The readings: [Rev. 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Cor. 15:20-26; Lk. 1:39-56] The message: Preserved from physical decay. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 1676
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Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to the celebration of the Holy Mass. Today, we are commemorating the Feast of the "Assumption of Mary." This Marian Doctrine was defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. Through this Doctrine, the Catholic Church proclaimed that, revealed by God, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into Heavenly glory.
While Pope Pius XII indicated that the faithful had no difficulty in accepting the fact that the great Mother of God had departed from this world as her Only-begotten Son had already done, he did not actually define her death. Therefore, the Catholic Church has never defined if (1) the blessed Virgin Mary was taken to heaven while she was still living, (2) if she physically died and her body was raised to Heaven, or if (3) she resurrected from the dead. There are no reliable records available to us to support either way.
The Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary progressively developed over the centuries. It was not something that was suddenly proclaimed, coming as a surprise to Catholics.
During today's Gospel reading, we heard that when Mary's cousin Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, she called Mary the "Mother of my Lord." This passage has led the Church to proclaim the dogma of Mary as the Mother of God.
During today's reading from the Book of Revelation, we heard that there is a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.
Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, it has been agreed upon that Jesus is the newborn male child referred to in this passage and the woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the same reading, we also heard that the child was snatched away and taken to God and to His throne. These words are symbolic, meaning that Jesus gloriously resurrected and He now rules at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.
Once the child was taken to Heaven, Satan, the dragon, pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. [Rev. 12:13] But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. [Rev. 12:14]
[Note: It should be noted that the Holy Bible used by "Novalis" in the edition of "Living With Christ" omits the reference to "the two wings of the great eagle" that is found in most Catholic Bibles.]
Prayerfully reviewing the symbolic meaning of the words, "the two wings of the great eagle," the Catholic Church was guided by the Holy Spirit to associate them with Deuteronomy 32:11 where reference is made to God as being represented by an eagle. The wings can then be understood to represent the two angels of the Lord God. Based on this symbolic meaning, the Catholic Church determined that the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven by angels of the Lord God to escape to a place of refuge.
When the Catholic Church addressed the Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, it was aware of the fact that both, Enoch and Elijah, were physically taken to paradise from this world. Considering that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the mother of God in His incarnated human nature and she was free from all stain of origin sin from the moment of her conception, the Church concluded that it was appropriate to define that Mary was elevated in glory and honour above all the prophets, the apostles, the saints and the angels of Heaven?
Another passage in the Scriptures influenced the Fathers and theologians of the Church in their recognition of the Assumption of Mary. This passage is found in the Old Testament. In Genesis 3:15, it is understood that Mary qualifies as co-redemptrix alongside Jesus, pointing to her common lot with her Son in His resurrection and passage of glory. The passage states,
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." [Gen. 3:15]
It was decreed by God that there would be hostilities between Satan and Mary, between the fallen angels and Jesus. The offsprings of Mary include all the children of God who are saved through Jesus.
Of all proofs in support of the Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, the most convincing is based on the traditional knowledge of the Church that Mary, as the Mother of God, had to be free of all traces of original sin in order to be the perfect child-bearing Temple of Jesus.
For the Virgin Mary to be totally free of all traces of original sin, the threefold incorruption that we will one day receive, of body, soul and spirit, had to already be present in her. She had to be created by God as a second Eve, as an immortal being. Her soul, spirit and body had to be one hundred percent free of original sin. (St. Germanus, in the 8th century, in his sermons on Our Lady's Falling-Asleep, taught that Mary had to have a threefold incorruption of body, soul and spirit.)
When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he lost his inheritance to eternal life. His soul, spirit and body, and those of his descendants, were called to experience physical and spiritual death. (Spiritual death in the sense of being denied admission to the Kingdom of God.) It is only through the Church Sacrament of Baptism that we receive our new creation, [2 Cor. 5:17. Gal. 6:15] our new heart and spirit [Ezek. 11:19, 18:31, 26:26] of the godly seed, [1 Jn. 3:9] as our assurance of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. As Jesus said, "No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." [Jn. 3:5-6]
Throughout the whole Bible, we find no evidence to even suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary was ever baptised as Jesus was baptised. This leads us to believe that, as the first Eve, she was wholly created by God from the moment of her conception, there being no need for her to be baptised in order to become a new creation that would free her from original sin. Created immaculate in nature, there were no traces of original sin within her.
As the Temple of Jesus, had Mary been born as a result of the seeds of her parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, without question, she would have inherited the original sin and the sinful nature of her parents. But this could not be the case! Being free of the original sin as the Holy Catholic Church has proclaimed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it then becomes clear that by the grace of the Heavenly Father, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary [Lk. 1:35], the female and male seeds had to be implanted by God within her parents to provide her immaculate state. As the Immaculate Heart, Mary then qualified to become the mother of Jesus, ensuring that His human nature would be free of all traces of original sin.
Is there any biblical evidence to support that Mary was created completely incorruptible in nature? Yes, there is! As a result of sin, when God punished Eve, He told her, "I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children..." [Gen. 3:16] As such, it is logically concluded that had Eve remained in her immaculate state, she would not have been subject to the pangs of childbearing, bringing forth children in pain.
Does the Bible refer to a woman bearing a child without pain? Yes, it does! "Before she was in labour, she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son (Jesus). Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? (the spiritual Kingdom of God) Shall a nation be delivered in one moment? Yet as soon as Zion (Mary) was in labor, she delivered her children." [Is. 66:7-8]
While the Church has never proclaimed if the blessed Virgin Mary was raised to Heaven while still living or if she died and resurrected, the aforementioned proof supports that Mary could not have died. Being incorruptible, having been created as the new Eve and spiritual mother of the world, at the twinkle of an eye, while being raised towards Heaven, she had to be transformed into her glorious body of light that she now enjoys. While we await for the day when our perishable bodies will put on imperishability and our mortal bodies will put on immortality, [1 Cor. 15:53-4] this was not the case with the blessed Virgin Mary.
As has been explained, the passages from the Books of Genesis, Isaiah and Revelations support one another. When reviewing these passages in their entirety, they go beyond the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption of Mary. They reveal that the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, shines as the Immaculate Heart of Mary in her glorious fullness of soul and body. Created immaculate by the grace of God above all other Heavenly and earthly creations, she is inseparable from Jesus.
Based on these facts, it is clear that the Holy Catholic Church has been inspired by the Holy Spirit in its proclamation of the Assumption of Mary.
(References: Gen. 3:15-6; Deut. 32:11; Is. 66:7-8; Ezek. 11:19, 18:31, 26:26; Lk. 1:35, 39-56; 1 Cor. 15:53-4; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; 1 Jn. 3:9; Rev. 12:1-17; "A Catholic Dictionary on Theology", page 170, published by "Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd," 1962; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 491-2, 966, 974)
"God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.
A great portent appeared in heave: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.
Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.'" [Rev. 11:19a, 12:1-6, 10]
"Brothers and sisters, Christ has been raised form the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a man; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." [1 Cor. 15:20-7]
"Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.
And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.'
And Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home." [Lk. 1:39-56]