HOMILY OF THE SOLEMNITY OF ASSUMPTION YEAR B
THEME: COMMEMORATION OF THE FOURTH GLORIOUS MYSTERY
BY: FR. CHIBUIKE UWAKWE
HOMILY: MEANING OF THE SOLEMNITY
• Today’s solemnity commemorates the Fourth glorious mystery. Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in his encyclical, Munificentissimus Deus, solemnly defined as dogma: “that at the end of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul”. This truth is called the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
• A dogma is different from and superior to a doctrine. A doctrine is a religious belief proposed and taught by the Church which the believers are encouraged to hold. But a dogma is a doctrine that has been officially defined as a divinely revealed truth which all believers are bound to accept; a rejection of which means a rejection of the Catholic faith. All dogmas are doctrines but not all doctrines are dogmas.
• There are Four Marian dogmas, that is, dogmas concerning the Virgin Mary: Motherhood of God; Perpetual Virginity; Immaculate Conception; and Assumption.
SOURCE OF THE DOGMA
• The event of the Assumption was not recorded in the Bible. In the Catholic Church, the Sacred Tradition (Oral Tradition) and Sacred Scripture (Written Tradition) form one deposit of faith. This means that all the Church believes and teaches come from the Oral Tradition handed over from the Apostles through the ages and/or the Written Tradition, which is the Bible (cf. Vat. II, Dei Verbum, no. 10).
• 2 Thess. 2:15: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
• 2 John 1:12: “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face”
• Therefore, this dogma is Traditional rather than Biblical, meaning that it got to us orally and not through the Bible.
THE PRIVILEGES OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AT THE ASSUMPTION
The Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed two great privileges at her Assumption:
1. First, at the end of her earthly life, her body was exempt from decaying. Psalm 16:10 says: “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.”
2. Second, the human body is to be reunited with the soul only at the Resurrection of the dead, which is to come at the end of time, but in Mary’s case, her body and soul were united immediately in heaven.
These and other privileges are based on her intimate relationship with the Blessed Trinity. As her son, Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father, She who gave flesh to the Son is a beloved daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son and Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit through whose power, she conceived at the Incarnation.
EFFECTS OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND HER ROLE AS THE NEW EVE
It brought an anthropological balance in the history of our salvation in three ways:
1. Because “God created them male and female” (Gen 1:27), a man and woman (Adam and Eve) co-operated at the Fall and faced the consequences, so did a man and woman, a new Adam and a new Eve, (Jesus and Mary) also co-operate at the Redemption and enjoyed the fruits. Thus, as the Ascension is the fruit of the redemption enjoyed by the man, the Assumption is the fruit enjoyed by the woman.
2. The Assumption is a proof of the equality of man and woman before God, Christ though God, ascended into heaven with the fullness of his humanity, so was Mary assumed into heaven with the fullness of her humanity.
3. Following the Assumption, Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Thus, in his divinity, Christ reigns with the other persons of the Trinity and in his humanity, he reigns with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the “Queen Mother”.
The Blessed Virgin Mary played her roles as the New Eve by reversing the Old Order in three ways:
1. In the Old Order, the woman came from the body of the man but in the New Order, the man came from the body of the woman.
2. In the Old Order, the woman disobeyed God first and taught the man to disobey God but in the New Order, the woman obeyed God first and taught the man to obey God.
3. In the Old Order, the woman brought curses upon herself and descendants but in the New Order, the woman brought blessings upon herself and descendants.
There are five lessons we can learn from this Solemnity of the Assumption:
1. Heaven is real and the Resurrection is a sure hope, when our bodies will be reunited with our souls. Mary went to heaven with her body and soul. We should strive to make heaven too because God rewards excellence.
2. The Assumption teaches us two things about God: That God is omnipotent and that in God there is no protocol. He is not bound even by his rules of bodily resurrection to take place at the end of time. He will break protocol for you.
3. We are composite beings made up of body and soul and redemption is for the whole person, body and soul. Though we have to take care of our soul mores, let us also take care of our bodies by eating good food, taking a proper bath, wearing nice clothes and perfumes, exercising regularly, etc. The body is not evil, it is God’s creation which is to return to Him.
4. If God can grant this extra-ordinary privilege to a woman, then we have no rights to discriminate against women in the Church and society (this is without prejudice to the exclusivity of conferring Holy Orders on men).
5. Mary is positioned in heaven as the first among the Saints because she is a complete version of the Saints since the other Saints still await the resurrection of their bodies at the end of time. So we can proudly venerate her and ask for her intercessions. Any true devotion to Mary is another worship given to God who is praised in His angels and Saints.
Happy Solemnity. God loves you.