Homily — Assumption of the Virgin Mary MMVII

Homily — Assumption of the Virgin Mary MMVII

Those of you who went to my installation Mass last Sunday heard me recite a profession of faith.

This profession of faith must be recited not only by Pastor’s before they can take office, but also by Transitional Deacons before they can be ordained, and it’s even mandated that Theology Professors at Catholic Colleges and Seminaries take this profession of faith before they can teach.

The first part of this profession of faith is the Nicene Creed that we say every Sunday at Mass after the homily.

The second half of this profession begins by saying, “With firm faith, I believe as well everything contained in God’s word, whether written, or handed down in Tradition . . . .as divinely revealed and calling for faith.”

This profession of faith I just took last Sunday reminds us that God’s word comes to us in two forms:  Written, and Unwritten.  The written word of God is found in Sacred Scripture.  The unwritten word of God is found in Sacred Tradition, which has been “handed down” in the Church from generation to generation from the time of the Apostles.

And while the Protestants say God’s word can be found in Sacred Scripture alone (what they call sola scriptura), we Catholics hold that Sacred Tradition is just as important as Sacred Scripture, and that both must be interpreted by the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Pope and Bishops.  (The Catechism says Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium make a three legged stool that we build our faith upon.  Take away one leg of a 3-legged stool, and the whole thing collapses.)

Today we celebrate the day the Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven, at the end of her earthly life.

And this Dogma of the Assumption is a truth of our faith that most certainly is “contained in God’s word,”  — not God’s written word however, but His unwritten word that has been “handed down in Tradition . . . .as divinely revealed and calling for faith.”

While the account of Mary’s Assumption isn’t explicitly recorded in the Bible, it’s hinted at here and there.

The First Reading and Psalm of the Vigil Mass speak of the Ark of the Covenant, the Vessel which contained the Word of God in Stone, the 10 Commandments.

The Ark was meant to remain in the Holy of Holies, the inner part of the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Book of Macabees says that Jeremiah hid the ark in a cave during the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians.

And in the Book of Revelation, John sees a vision of Heaven, and there in Heaven is the Ark of the Covenant.   So it appears that the Old Ark of the Covenant was assumed into heaven.

Well, Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant!  Inside her immaculate womb was contained not the Word of God on Stone, but the Word of God made Flesh, Jesus Christ.

And so the psalm verse, Go up Lord to the place of your rest, you and the Ark of your holiness,  Is a prophecy referring to the Ascension of Jesus and the Assumption of Mary the Ark of the New Covenant!

And then of course there’s the famous passage in the Book of Revelation, of A Woman, clothed with the Sun, with the Moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of Twelve Stars.

Again, while Sacred Scripture doesn’t say the woman’s name, Sacred Tradition has always taught it is Our Mother Mary that St. John sees.

And from ancient times, and in the dark ages and middle ages, up to today, while Holy Shrines have debated over who had the real bones of St. Peter, or Mary Magdalene, or the Magi, no shrine has ever claimed to have had the bones of Mary.  That is because Christians from the beginning have known she went body and soul to be with her Son.

And so, “with firm faith” we today joyfully profess our faith in Mary’s Assumption “as divinely revealed and calling for faith.”

And with firm faith we believe that one day, Christ will raise our mortal bodies, rejoining them permanently to our souls.

And on this Solemnity, we look to our Heavenly Mother and Queen, trusting that she will obtain for us the graces we need to follow her Son faithfully in this life, so that in the next life we will be with her and Jesus and our loved ones, body and soul, praising God for ever in Heaven.

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