Catholic Sunday homily: Solemnity of Assumption of Mary Year B
Theme: The Blessed Virgin Mary taken up into heavenly glory.
By: Fr. Cajetan Anyanwu
Homily for Sunday August 15 2021
On this Sunday the church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Solemnity of the Assumption teaches that, after her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up into heavenly glory body and soul. The Eastern Orthodox churches celebrated this as the Dormition -Dormitio (Falling Asleep) of the Mother of God. As it gained popularity in the West, Pope Pius XII, in consultation with bishops all over the world, proclaimed it a dogma (doctrine to be believed by the faithful) on November 1, 1950. This proclamation is contained in the Papal Bull or Apostolic Constitution entitled, Munificientissimus Dues. It states: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.”
This papal declaration is a confirmation of what the faithful already practiced and believed since the 5th century in the East and the 8th century in the West. Thus, this doctrine was in practice during the Apostolic times and traditionally handed down to the Church. Although it is taken to be a theological conclusion, but it has some indirect references in the Scriptures. For example, Luke’s gospel narrates how Mary was greeted by the angel, “hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk.1:28). “… Do not be afraid. Mary, for you have found favor with God” “… The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk. 1:30-35). “… And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:39-56). Having already been preserved from original sin, she was prepared to be the bearer of God. She is the mediatrix of all graces.
We read in the book of Revelation that, “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple” (Rev. 11:19ff). Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, the resting place of God (Cf. Ps. 132). Hence, this highly favored woman whose womb bore the Son of God would never experience bodily corruption. The discovery of an empty tomb near the place of her death buttresses the fact of her assumption. The Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary is built on this site of the empty tomb near Jerusalem where pilgrims visit frequently to this day. Although the assumption is slightly different from Christ’s resurrection from the dead, it also points to eternal life. The dormition (Falling Asleep) of Mary paved the way for her to rejoin with her Son in heaven. Paul says: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor. 15:20-27). Those who love Jesus and Mary, those who do the will of God and love others shall rejoice in heaven. May Mary assumed into heaven pray for us sinners, amen.
Happy Assumption Sunday.
Fr. Cajetan Anyanwu