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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Entrance Antiphon: Rev 12:1 — “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.”

First Reading: Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab — “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 45:10, 11, 12, 16 — “The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.”

Second Reading: 1 Cor 15:20-27 — “Christ, the first-fruits; then those who belong to him.”

Alleluia: “Mary is taken up to heaven; a chorus of angels exults.”

Gospel: Lk 1:39-56 — “The Almighty has done great things for me; he has raised up the lowly.”

Communion Antiphon: Lk 1:48-49 — “All generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.”

The issues of death and dying make many people afraid or uncomfortable. However, if we truly believe that the resurrection of Jesus applies also to us, then we have nothing to fear, and much to look forward to. Thanks to Jesus, we anticipate a new life beginning when this one ends, taking us to a world far superior to our own – one where there is no more sadness, sickness, disappointment or death.

Belief in new and eternal life is what the Assumption of the Blessed Mother is all about. Before Mary sets out on her journey through the hill country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, Gabriel referred to her as being full of grace (Lk 1:28). Those three words bolster the Church’s defense both of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and her glorious Assumption. Mary was privileged to live her entire life wholly devoted to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. She held the baby Jesus in her arms when He was born, and took Him in her arms again when He was taken down from the cross. Through it all, she trusted in God’s plan and His goodness, though her heart was pierced by a sword.

According to sacred Tradition, Mary lived another 20 years after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. When her earthly life ended, it is believed she simply went to sleep rather than die. She, who was sinless, would not be subject to the decay that awaits the mortal bodies of sinners. We believe instead that she was received body and soul into heaven.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul refers to Jesus’ resurrection as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:20). Think about it. By stating that there is a “first” implies that there will be a “second.” In actuality, neither Jesus nor Mary were the first or second to ascend body and soul into heaven. Enoch preceded them in just this same fashion in Genesis (Gen 5:24), and Elijah would follow (2 Kings 2:11), riding in a chariot, carried on a whirlwind. The Old Testament is always giving us glimpses of greater coming attractions.

These figures were not raised to heaven of their own accord, but rather by the power and grace of God. Mary knew she could not have made any of this happen on her own merit, as she understood herself to be a lowly servant, one for whom the Lord has done great things. Just as Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her unborn son John the Baptist leap for joy in the presence of Mary and the unborn King, so, too, this day the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth rejoices as Mary receives a heavenly homecoming. There she is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, a fitting title for one whom Elizabeth refers to as the mother of my Lord.

Mary’s Assumption increases our own hope for new and eternal life. While it is doubtful we will be taken to heaven body and soul in an instant, we do believe that both body and soul will be reunited in the resurrection at the end of time when Christ comes again in glory. This is why the Church is so insistent that our mortal bodies be treated with great dignity and respect upon burial – as this earthly temple of the Holy Spirit that sustained us in this life will one day be glorified and risen up in the world to come.

Mary’s triumph was foretold in the Book of Revelation. The pregnant woman is protected and taken up to the stars. She is the New Eve, who is greatly rewarded for giving birth to the New Adam, who is Jesus Christ. To correct the sin that began at the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, Jesus uses the tree of the cross to destroy our last and greatest enemy – death. With Mary, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, and the whole communion of saints, we rejoice, because "now have salvation and power come and the kingdom of our God " (Rev 12:10).

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