August 15, 2014 - ASSUMPTION OF MARY ;

REVELATION 11:19-12:10 ; 1 COR 15:20-27; LUKE 1:39-56

Strikingly, none of the three readings today mention explicitly Mary's Assumption into heaven, body and soul.  The fact is that there is no passage in the Bible that directly mentions the death or the bodily Assumption of the mother of our Savior.  Yet each of today's texts readily brings to mind that she is so personally implicated in God's plan of salvation. When Pope Pius XII declared in 1950 that it is revealed divine teaching that Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul, he insisted that Scripture provides the ultimate basis for this truth.  The Holy Father pointed out that the inspired text depicts Mary as "most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing His lot." Her consent was essential for the Incarnation of God's Son and her maternal care throughout the impressionable years of the Lord's infancy and childhood implies that her influence is present though hidden in the Lord's active ministry.  For the most part Mary's role in Jesus' formation and throughout his adult life is shrouded in the mystery of silence.  That Jesus, as her only child, became her only support after the early death of St. Joseph is expressly brought to our knowledge only at the cross.  Jesus was concerned to provide for her care as one of his last acts.  He gave his beloved disciple the charge for her welfare for the future.  Mention of details of her subsequent experience and of her death is found, however, in the apocryphal gospels.  They witness for the most part to the faith and piety of early Christian faithful than provable facts.

However, these early accounts are a testimony to the fittingness of Mary's body being preserved from corruption and taken up into God's presence.  Only after some centuries, had the Church had been able to unite behind acceptable formulation of her faith in Jesus as true man and true God.  Already in our Lord's lifetime his claims on faith met with strong resistance that resulted in his rejection and death by crucifixion.  To this day, there are many who do not accept his assertion that the Eucharist is truly his living body and blood.  When in addressing Jews in the temple, the Lord used language that indicated his divinity, they attempted to kill him by stoning.  Only after the four early Ecumenical Councils had sufficiently established these fundamental truths of Catholic faith did the liturgy incorporate a feast celebrating the mystery of our Lady's Assumption.  The earliest extant evidence we have for a liturgical celebration of this mystery is found in the Armenian Church.  Thus already around the time of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 when Mary was officially honored with the title Mother of God today's feast of the Assumption was being celebrated.  One of the insights supporting the faith in Mary's Assumption prominently brought forward in the Pope's proclamation of this feast is that Mary is the New Eve.  In her role as the mother of God through giving birth to the Redeemer she also became the true Mother of the Living.  One of the consequences of this fact is that Mary is our Mother; we are in all truth members of the family of God.  We have the same eternal Father who is Father of the Lord Jesus; we also have the same Mother who is Mother of Jesus.

In honoring Mary's Assumption into heaven at this Eucharist, we pay tribute to God, the Father of us all, who, in view of the anticipated merits of His incarnate Son, preserved Mary from all stain of sin.  In preparing her to be Mother of His Beloved Son, He also gave her to us, making us brothers and sisters of our Savior.  We express our faith and gratitude for this gracious give by this sacramental renewal of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger