HOMILY OF AUGUST 15TH: FEAST OF ASSUMPTION YEAR B
THEME: WHAT GOD CANNOT DO, DOES NOT EXIST!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY: (REVELATION 11:19; 12:1-6,10; 1CORINTHIANS 15:20-26; LUKE1:39-56)
In my reflection on Assumption today I want to be more polemical. In doing that I am going to dwell on historical verifiable facts of life of holy people. This is not by anyway trying to relegate the bible to the background because recently on 6th August Patrick Madrid shared an article on his twitter handle about Archaeological evidence that points to an earthquake that took place 2,800 years ago (8thc BC) warned against by Amos 1:1f and reported 200 years later by, Zechariah 14:4-6 mentioned in the bible and also reported by the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus. So, by this I mean facts that happened around us and in our time.
The tradition of the Assumption was already proclaimed as early as in the year 749 by John Damascene. Prior to that, in the Byzantine Empire it was celebrated as the dormition before the Western Church in the 5th century it was replaced with the term Assumption. However, it was only in the 1950 through the apostolic constitution; Munificentissimus Deus of November 01 that Pope Pius defined it a dogma in the Church.
There are no direct biblical references narrating the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven mostly because the bible concentrated on our saviour Jesus Christ, but there are strong biblical pointers as well as other events with inferential relationships. For instance; Isaiah 7:14. Here we are presented with the Virginity of Mary. Luke 1:28. This is the only place in the entire bible that God spoke of someone as being full of grace or highly favoured. God had in the past extolled some men and women of virtue like Abraham, David, Deborah, et cetera, but none has been told that he or she was full of grace. Mary was also told by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth that she is blessed among all women which is another significant value placed on her. It does really follow that one with such rare attribute deserves a special package before God. Evidently this happened with some people in the bible. In Genesis (5:24) we are told that Enoch suddenly was taken away. In 2 Kings (2:1-11), Elijah was taken up to heaven by a chariot of fire.
The glorious Assumption of the Immaculate mother of God into heaven did not happen by her own power. She had no power of her own to undertake such mysterious flight into heaven. It is purely the grace of God working in her. It is based upon this that we differentiate the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven (which is by his own divine power) and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which took place through the power of God).
In the history of the Church, God has endowed some people with some unusual gifts because of their piety. Outwardly this can be seen in some people experiencing one or two of those unique events in the Life of Jesus Christ. I will like to start with St. Juan Diego in Tepeyac Hill in our neighbouring country here Mexico whom our blessed mother asked to pick roses during a season flowers do not thrive as a proof to the bishop and when he opened his tilma(cloak) before the bishop dozens of roses fell out and the image of Mary, Our Lady Guadalupe which we have in all Churches in America imprinted on the inside of his cloak became visible, by the way the original Tilma or cloak is still today in Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is not a legendary but a true-life story. Others include;
1. Stigmatism: (bleeding at those spots Christ bled) Sts. Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Rita of Cascia & Padre Pio.
2. Bilocation (being at two places at same time) Sts. Alphonsus Ligouri, Anthony of Padua, Padro Pio, Ursula Micaela, Martin de Porres, Francis Xavier etc.
3. Levitation (Being lifted up unaided) Sts. Joseph of Cupertino, Teresa of Avila, Martin de Porres.
4. Glossolalia (Speaking and understanding other languages) Sts. Theresa Neumann (mystic and stigmatcs1898-1962), Anthony of Padua, Paul of the Cross, St Dominic,
5. Incorruption (body not decaying after death till today) Sts. Catherine Laboure (died dec. 31,1876) Rita of Cascia (died 22 May 1457) and Bernadette Soubirous (died April 16 1879). Two years ago, I was privileged to see the incorrupt heart of St John Vianney Patron of Diocesan priests who died since Aug 4th 1859 brought to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup.
Among these we relate Levitation and incorruption with Assumption as mystical experiences willed by God for our Blessed mother. Our lives begin in the closest possible association with another human being: our mothers. The bond between mother and child begins and is deepened even in the womb. We depend on her for warmth, nourishment and are soothed by the reassuring beating of her heart. This union also characterized the relationship of the Lord to his mother. So, my brothers and Sisters, I will like to end with a question; If God could give other humans these gifts; what of His faithful mother? What God cannot do, does not exist!
Happy feast day.
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara