HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
HOMILY THEME: Total submission to God and being a choice of God gave her this honour.
BY: Rev Fr Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Rev. 11: 19; 12: 1-6.10, Ps. 45, 1 Cor. 15: 20-27, Luke 1: 39-56
Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was made a dogma of the Church by Pope Pius X11 in 1950. Earlier, Pope Pius V had in the year 1568 made this feast a universal holy day for the Church. Before this time the tradition of Assumption was already proclaimed as early as in the year 749 by St John Damascene. This is one of the revealed truths of the Church and which faithful reason supports not human reasoning because it is beyond human understanding. It is one of those teachings that are known by the teaching authority of the Church and approved by councils and by papal fiat. It is not explicitly written in the Bible but inferential from the Bible.
Beloved, the cult of Mary has made a lot of teachings available to us and some biblical citations have helped us understand the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the spiritual sphere. The first reading of today from the revelation of God made to St John was clear about the place of honour that the Blessed Virgin Mary occupies in the kingdom of God. John was divinely privileged to see into the heavens and saw a woman who was clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This revelation and interpretation coupled with discernment by the spirit of God in his Church has revealed that this woman is no other than the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what one of the oldest prayers of the Church has made us to understand in the Catena which like a rhetoric questions says: “Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?” She is the woman who is honoured by the heavenly bodies: the sun, the moon and the stars. This is what we were given by John’s revelation in the first reading. No other human creature has been honoured in this way by God to the extent that the celestial bodies stand aghast at her sight and are used as adornment and ornaments to add to her beauty. Her beauty is not just the physical appearance but her spiritual beauty which God testified through the message of Archangel Gabriel: You are full of grace and the Lord is with you because amongst all women you are the most blessed as proclaimed by the holy woman Elizabeth. The twelve stars signify the power of this woman to rule as Queen for the twelve tribes of Israel which extends to the new Israel which covers the entire humanity. This is why she is called the Queen of heaven and earth. The second part of the revelation is about her being the mother of Jesus who came to save the world and the fight to stop his mission by Pharaoh and his evil cohorts and had to be taken to Egypt for safety.
Because God chose her from the beginning and consecrated her and made her to be born Immaculate, she had no stain of Original Sin and that made it possible for her to be the best choice of God to bear the Holy unstained Son of God who will redeem the world. She became the Theotokos, the Holy tabernacle that housed Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant to bring humanity to salvation in the fruit of her womb. She gave birth to her son a virgin and remained a virgin and since unstained by any sin, she cannot be a subject of corruption, decay by death or die since she contained the author of life. Since according to the second reading all shall be made alive in Christ, the first that should benefit from this must be the mother of Christ who even the people proclaimed blessed when they said: Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breast you sucked. There is no reason why this woman should test corruption or die and be buried under the earth. If people like Elijah and Moses and Enoch were given such privilege what of the one who is full of grace and chosen to be God’s mother because of Christ whom she carried?
Beloved, St John Damascene spoke much and gave reasons why she must be assumed body and soul to heaven and these were accepted in the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius X11 on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Little wonder she knowing this great privilege sang in the Magnificat that all generations shall call her blessed because the Almighty has done great things for her whose name is holy. So let us join her today to make our souls magnify the Lord and our spirit to rejoice in God who is our Saviour. This is because on God’s right stands the Queen in gold of Ophir because the King of heaven and earth desires her beauty and so she is on her assumption escorted amid gladness and joy and passing through the palace of the King. May this woman continue to be our Queen and Mother and keep us in her powerful intercession, Amen.
Rev Fr Callistus Emenyonu, cmf