The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary – the bodily taking up of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. Just like all the other solemnities and feasts of our Christian faith, today must not only be a commemoration and celebration of the great things God has done to Mary. Rather, we must also see and express the meaning and relevance of this Solemnity in our personal and communal life today. The right understanding of today’s readings and the appropriate response to their message are required to make this feast meaningful and relevant.
Today’s first reading mentions God’s “ark of his covenant.” The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was the box that contained the remnants of the Ten Commandments. It was put at the heart of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, It bore the divine presence to Israel. Before the Temple in Jerusalem was built, the Ark was carried into battle every time Israel would go against its enemies, precisely because the Ark bore the presence of God. When the Ark was lost, Israel lost its way.
The Book of Revelation mentions a new Ark of the Covenant seen in the heavenly temple, and it is associated with a woman. Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant because she carried within her, in a vivid way, the very personal presence of God – Jesus Christ. Note that the new Ark, Mary, is also associated with battle. Bishop Robert Barron has this commentary: “In contrast to our conventional view of the Virgin Mary as timid and shy, the Book of Revelation presents her as a warrior who has brought into the world a new way of dealing with worldly power: Christ, who is Love itself.”
What the good Bishop says next is something which we must seriously ponder upon: “If we do not approach the world as a battlefield between love and violence, we will become spiritually blind.” “But the Blessed Virgin Mary, as warrior, helps us see this reality while assuring us that her Son has already won the battle.” Ito ang susi sa makahulugan at makabuluhang pagdiriwang ng kapistahan ngayon na sinasabi ko at pinapanukala ko. We have to see the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a call to battle against the forces of violence. If this feast is to be relevant today, we must join Mary in this battle against the worldly power of violence and oppression – by bringing Christ and spreading his love wherever we are.
We are not talking about mere sentimental battle that can be fought by mere pious words and deeds, but, rather, of real battle that calls for warm bodies willing and able to bring the Kingdom values – of honesty and decency, of justice and peace, of liberty and equality, of love for the poor and the weak, of respect for life – into the battlefield. The worldly power – which relies on violence and cruelty, threat and intimidation, oppression and repression – is very much at work in our society today. Are you ready to go into battle with Mary? Are you not “on the other side” ignoring, condoning, and even doing violence and oppression with the powers-that-be?
Mary’s “revolutionary image” in the Book of Revelation finds expression in the “revolutionary statement” of the Magnificat that she sings and proclaims in today’s gospel reading. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘revolutionary’ as “tending to or promoting revolution; constituting or bringing a major or fundamental change.”
Let us read again a part of Mary’s Magnificat: He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit, He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
Mary’y Magnificat is not just a hymn; it is a principle of life by which she lived. Just like Mary, we must seek contentment in life solely from God – knowing that outside God there is nothing but nothing. We must be prepared to be lowly servants of God’s will – knowing that to walk out of God’s will is to walk into nowhere. We must have nothing to do with pride – knowing that pride shuts out grace; it changes angels into devils. We must choose to live in the spirit of poverty, simplicity, and dependence – knowing that God alone suffices, that his kingdom is our only treasure. We are called to live for these same values for which Mary lived, so that we too can share in her heavenly glory.
Indeed, the Solemnity of the Assumption is a message of hope. As Mother Mary’s children, we must be messengers of hope, precisely by joining her in the battle against violence and cruelty, threat and intimidation, oppression and repression, by bringing Christ and spreading his love in this battlefield. We have to live by the truth that we too can share in Mary’s heavenly glory, in her Assumption, if we make our lives a living proclamation of the Magnificat, a vibrant testimony to the Gospel of truth, justice, and peace.