READINGS for 2009-08-15
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
THE TRuE mIRAClE
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun… – Revelations 12:1
I remember getting hooked on TV when feature programs about the Marian apparitions and the dancing sun in the town of Medjugorje, Yugoslavia graced almost every television network in the ‘80s. It was a very interesting phenomenon to follow.
I had seen the video footage of the dancing sun several times back then. I had wished to be part of a pilgrimage to see it with my own eyes. Many Catholics and non-Catholics alike questioned the authenticity of the phenomenon. But whether it was real or not was irrelevant to me because I witnessed, at least through television, the essence of what transpired — people from all over the world came together in one place to witness the modern day miracle of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” Though we come from different nations, have different cultures and different views, when we come together in faith, we become one with God. That is the true miracle. Nova Arias
Faith can move mountains. Be the miracle today.
Lord, help me to strengthen other people’s faith in You.
The Assumption of Mary into heaven as a defined Doctrine of the Church is only a fairly recent reality. Yet the belief in Mary’s assumption into heaven dates from many centuries ago. What is important for us here is that we realize that Mary only receives a little ahead of the rest of us what we will receive later. This is appropriate because of her special role in being the Mother of the Son of God.
Revelation 11:19a; 12: 1-6a. 10ab
19 God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. 12: 1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. 4 Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. 6 The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.”
P S A L M
Psalm 45:10. 11. 12. 16
R: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
9  The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir. (R) 10  Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house. (R) 11  So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord. (R) 15  They are borne in with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the king. (R)
St. Paul expounds on the greatness of the victory Christ has over sin and death and exhorts us to take hold of the consequences of it for our own lives, namely that we are called to live in freedom from the powers of sin and death. This is what we celebrate in the Assumption of Mary into heaven. She has received the fullness of the fruits of the resurrection and thus lives in total freedom from even the effects of sin.
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
20 Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, 23 but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; 24 then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death, 27 for “he subjected everything under his feet.”
G O S P E L
Mary knows that she is merely being obedient to the grace God gives her in all that she does. She is aware that the power rests with God; the initiative is His and all she has to do is follow His will as best as she can. Herein lies the essence of discipleship: simple and swift obedience to God’s word and will. If we follow the example of Mary, we will be setting loose in our world a power that will amaze us no end.
39 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” 46 And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. 51 He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 53 The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, 55 according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
think:The essence of discipleship is simple and swift obedience to God’s word and will.
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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Today, August 15, is the so-called Ferragosto in Italy: the high point of the summer season, the hottest time of the year. City streets are empty. People flock to mountain resorts and beaches. Stores and museums are closed. Rome is like a ghost town.
Perhaps this is symbolic of what Mary’s Assumption (which we commemorate today) confronts head on: the reality of death. And not only does it confront death; it defies it. As the document Munificentissimus Deus puts it, Mary “gained the supreme crown of her privileges — to be preserved from the corruption of the tomb, and like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of heaven, there to sit in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of ages.” Pope Pius XII (the author of these words) underscores the fact that “what is commemorated in this feast is not simply the total absence of corruption from the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary but also her triumph over death and her glorification in heaven.”
This is a unique and God-given privilege to our Blessed Mother. We might get the impression that Mary is someone who is so far from us, someone we can only gaze at and admire from afar, and someone whose praises we sing, but whose qualities are not quite for us. As far as the realities of death and mortality and physical corruptibility are concerned, that might be true. Mary stands apart from all of us in this regard. Death, obviously, is something we will all have to face and go through.
But with Mary’s Assumption into heaven, we mortals obtain a new dimension concerning death. We need not just passively face and endure death. We can, if we like, “rage against the dying of the light.” Or we can “befriend” death, shake hands with it (as it were), and look at it with a tender temperament.
Christ’s supreme sacrifice on the cross bore fruits that were first enjoyed by Mary, His Mother. Death has lost its sting; it has been defeated and trampled afoot. Death itself has died. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB
Reflection Question: How do I regard death? Am I afraid of it or do I welcome it?
Lord, grant me wisdom and grace to welcome death so I may live each day as if it were my last.
St. Tarsicius, Martyr, pray for us.
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