Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary– Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Lord did great Things in her Life.”
The world is a battlefield where the ‘forces of death’ and the ‘forces of life’ engage each other. It is easy to see that in many cases the forces of death seem to have the upper hand: hatred, solitude, betrayals, social and economic injustice, fears and disease seems to have engulfed us. These are all points scored in the favour of the ‘forces of death’. What does God, who created us for life, do? Does he just look on unmoved at our defeat?
The first reading describes the uneven struggle between the monstrous dragon – a symbol of the forces of evil – and a defenseless woman and child. The woman and the child win because God intervenes to save them.
In the second reading, Paul describes the One who defeated death: Christ. He is the One to crush all the enemies of life and he destroys death, turning it into the ‘new fullness’ of life.
The song of the Gospel that Luke ascribes to Mary is a thanksgiving hymn to the Lord for all the wonders he did: he gave fertility to the womb of a virgin and opened all the graves, those of Christ and Mary as well as our own.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10.
Revelation is a book of encouragement. It is addressed to Christians who were being rejected and excluded from the ordinary society of that time because of their unwillingness to take part in ‘so called religious activities’ (i.e., worship of the emperor) that was then part of the ordinary civic life of the time. The encouragement that ‘Revelation’ offers comes in the form of visions and narratives that deal with God’s providence for the world. The reading prescribed by the lectionary for the solemnity of the ‘Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ is from a large segment of Revelation that is concerned with portraying the power of evil in opposition to God and his people. It gives us the general outlines of God’s response to the powers of evil, and of God’s plan for salvation.
John, in his exile on the island of Patmos, has given us a glimpse of the heavenly liturgy, and was instructed to ‘write down the vision’, for the encouragement of his persecuted fellow-Christians in Asia Minor. For John, it is absolutely clear that the vision comes from God: “God’s Temple, the one in heaven, was opened, and the ‘Ark of his Covenant’ appeared in his Temple”. The ‘Ark of the Covenant’ is a symbol for Mary, whose unfailing fidelity made her the ‘ideal vessel’ in which God’s faithful creativity towards the human race can be lovingly expressed. So we are right to see the ‘woman clothed with the sun’ as the Galilean peasant-woman who said her ‘yes’ to God; she is also a symbol of God’s own victory.
At the same time, we notice that she is very much a human being, who ‘cries out in labour-pains, and is tormented in child-birth’. She is frail, an apparently easy victim for the ‘great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns’, whose ‘tail wipes a third of the stars from the sky’, and who waits to ‘gobble up her child’. But God is in charge and ‘her child was snatched up and taken to God’, while ‘the woman fled to the desert, where she had a place prepared by God’. The visions of Revelation convey in symbolic language truths about God’s salvific plan for humanity.
Our author also identifies the woman with Israel, which according to prophetic tradition, was the bride of God. At the birth of the Messiah, the serpent of Genesis reappeared and tried to destroy him. Medieval commentators identified this woman with Mary, the mother of Jesus who, as the second Eve, despite Satan’s efforts and power, brought Christ into the world.
Psalm 45:10-12, 12, 16.
The Psalm describes a royal marriage. It portrays an ideal king, who tradition identified with the coming Messiah, and a queen who totally dedicated her service to the king. Her loyalty foreshadows Mary’s who lived according to the will of God. Equally human is the bride who is being consoled in the psalm for the solemnity. She is told to ‘forget your people and your father’s house’, and is reminded that the king … is your Lord and you must worship him’.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26.
Paul uses a favourite argument: if Adam brought death into the world, then Christ, the second Adam, brought life (Rom 5:12-19), a life, which means Resurrection. His Messianic work of destroying all those forces that oppose God moves towards completion, with final victory, the Kingdom of God will be a reality. He will be the true ‘Messianic King’ of the Psalm.
First Elizabeth, and then Mary speak in Luke’s account of the ‘Visitation’. Elizabeth’s words associate Mary with the great woman of Israel’s history. She declares her ‘blessed’ like Jael (Jgs 5:24) and Judith (Jdt 13:18), women who had distinguished themselves against the enemies of Israel. The ‘fruit of her womb’ was blessed too, because as a faithful Israelite, she had readily obeyed the voice of God when it came to her with Gabriel’s message (Dt 28:1; Lk 1:26-38). Mary replies with the ‘Canticle of the Magnificat’. Its subject throughout is the activity of God first, then, with regard to herself. It incorporates many Old Testament phrases and ideas. Its primary model is the ‘Canticle of Hannah’, the mother of Samuel.
Mary begins with gratitude and praise, as Jesus began his own prayer. She recognizes the reality of God’s grace. Unlike the Pharisee who prayed in the Temple, she did not list her own achievements but gave credit to the work of God in her. God’s grace had enabled her to listen to the angel’s message and to put it into practice. Mary’s God is a God of fidelity and action. This fidelity showed itself in his faithful love revealed in his Covenant with his people (Ex 20:6) and in the fulfilment of his promises made to Abraham (Gn 12:3). He intervened in history on behalf of the lowly, the starving and the unfortunate. This same God would be active in the life of her Son, who solemnly inaugurated his Messianic programme of the ‘Good News’ for the poor when he began his ministry in the Nazareth synagogue. God’s final act of raising the lowly and putting down the mighty in the Gospel came about in the Resurrection of Jesus.
Mary, as ‘Mother of the Church’ and the first Christian disciple, we believe that she continues to pray the Magnificat Prayer in the glory of heaven. When we say she was assumed bodily into heaven, what do we mean? Even in English, this is not very clear. Theologically it means she has special privileges afforded to her body since she carried the Son of God in her womb. Historically, the Church has disputed whether or not this means that Mary had actually first died. Some have preferred the term dormition, the idea that Mary just went to sleep and woke up Queen of Heaven. Others insist that she certainly died but just as surely did not suffer decay.
What do the images and scriptural allusions the author of Revelation have to do with the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary? It does not seem likely that he intended to signify Mary of Nazareth as the woman clothed with the sun. Most probably, the woman represents the people of God, the Church. Yet Mary is not for that very reason excluded here.
The Church teaches us that Mary is a ‘model of the Church’. The Church offers Christ to the world. So did Mary. We cannot properly venerate the Blessed Mother without including Christ and the Church. The dogma of the ‘Assumption’ teaches us that Mary, having completed her earthly life, was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul. She was taken into eternal life with her Son to the fullest possible extent. In that context she represents the whole people of God.
Mary is the image of the Church as it will be when it comes to perfection.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Let us take courage from the Book of Revelation that God is constantly at work in his divine plan with His providence for the world. It gives us the general outline of God’s response to the many powers of evil that have been inflicted upon our world in the past and now at present.
Mon. … We need to be aware of the dangers of mediocrity in the practice of our faith. We must ensure that our lives as Christians must be more than merely ‘just routine’ or ‘luke-warm’. God must come first in our lives!
Tues. … The Church will never compromise the truth given to us by Christ. It is against such dangers that the Book of Revelation inveighs. It is in the surrender to such dangers that incurs the awful penalties that the book invokes. Conversely, it is loyalty to Christ and his Church, which brings the blessed victory with Jesus that the author so lovingly describes.
Wed. … God brought us into this world for a limited period only. We must believe in his plan and trust in him. We are all called to spiritual maturity in this world, where there are ‘seeds of life’ and ‘germs of death’. The choice is ours!
Thurs. … Mary recognizes God’s grace and prays the ‘Canticle of the Magnificat’. God’s grace enabled her to listen to the angel’s message and to accept God’s will. Through Mary’s obedience to God’s, our Saviour was conceived and our redemption achieved. With such a glorious outcome, need we ever question God’s motives and his will? Let us pray for Mary’s obedience and humility so that we may learn by her example that we may truly serve in God’s plan.
Frid. … The Church offers Christ to the world and so did Mary, God greatest gift of love. Mary was assumed into heaven to be united with her Son. Let us pray that we too will obey God’s will and rise to new life in Christ.
Sat. … The dogma of the ‘Assumption’ teaches us that Mary, having completed her earthly life, was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul. She was taken into eternal life with her Son to the fullest possible extent. In that context she represents the whole people of God. She is an image of the Church as it will be when it comes to perfection.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, Mary’s bodily assumption into heavenly glory reminds us that Your Son came to save us ‘body and soul’. The healing we experience in this life is a foretaste of the love and joy in Your Kingdom. May it direct our gaze and desire to the eternal happiness of heaven where every tear will be wiped away and our exile in this valley of tears will be at an end.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.