Feast of the Assumption

Homily Ė Feast of the Assumption

Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catholic Church teaches us that Mary, at the end of her life, was assumed body and soul into Heaven. I want to clear up some points because this is not a belief that is accepted by every Christian. Some would argue that the Catholics made it up and it is extra biblical. It is important for you to understand why we believe what we believe.
For 2000 years the Assumption of Mary has been the understanding and belief of the Catholic Church. It wasnít until about 500 years ago that the assumption was widely disputed. I would like to share with you some historical and theological reasons the Church has believed this for 2000 years, first the historical evidence.
As I said this is not a new teaching but a belief that has been with us during the entire 2000 year history of the Catholic Church. The earliest Church fathers speak of it and they knew the apostles first hand. Some in fact were students of John the Beloved Disciple who took Mary into his home after Jesus ascended to heaven. As for the Apostles themselves we know where all of the are buried or were buried and devotion to visiting their tombs has been with us for our entire 2000 year history as well. Yet no one knows where Mary was buried. That is because she was not, she was assumed body and soul into heaven. No city even claims to have her grave although at least two claim to have the house in which she lived until the end of her life. No pilgrimages or devotions have ever existed for the tomb of Mary like that of all the other apostles and saints.
All the historical evidence: 2000 years of consistent belief of the Church, the testimony of those who knew the Apostles, and the absence of any grave or even a claim to a grave points to the truth of what we believe. No historical evidence points to the new, non catholic, belief that she died and was buried.
How about scriptural or theological evidence? Remember one of my favorite themes is that God in the Old Testament gives us previews of coming attractions in the New Testament and then fulfills them beyond our expectations. The first image we seen in our readings today is the Ark of the Covenant in Heaven. What was the Ark used for in the Old Testament? It carried the manna, the bread from heaven, and the 10 commandments which are the Word of God. Jesus says He is the true bread come down from heaven. He is the Word of God made flesh. His blood is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. Ö And Mary carried Him in her womb for 9 months. She carried the True bread of Life and the True word of God. She is the new Ark, of the new and everlasting covenant. The fathers called her the new ark of the covenant for this reason and we see the Ark in Heaven here.
Next we see the image of the woman clothed in the sun who gives birth to the child that does battle with the dragon. The child is the messiah, Christ, and the Dragon is the Devil. Christ defeated the devil on the cross and Mary gave birth to Christ. Here we see that woman in Heaven, body and soul.
Friends, this is just the first reading and that is not even all that can be said. There were others in scripture who were assumed body and soul including Enoch and Elijah. Why would Christ not want his own mother with Him after all her faithfulness. If Enoch and Elijah, who faithfully brought Godís word to the people by their preaching were rewarded by being assumed into Heaven body and soul, why not Christís Mother, who through her faithfulness brought The Word of God to the people by carrying him in her womb and raising him during his earthly life.
All the evidence, historical and theological, points to what the Church has believed for 2000 years. It is not a new teaching or belief. The new teaching, 500 years old, which has no basis in history or scripture, is that she died and was buried.
Mary was assumed body and soul in Heaven. She, both body and soul, is where we want to be. She was in her life by her holiness and faithfulness, and she is now with Christ her son on Heaven. I encourage you to develop a relationship with her and through her with her Son. That is who she always points to. Ask for her to intercede with her son on your behalf as she did in scripture at the Wedding feast of Cana. Let her answer to God be yours: Let it be done to me according to Your Word. Model your life after hers, a life of holiness and faithfulness; A life whose soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and rejoices in God her savior.

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