YEAR B: HOMILY OF THE FEAST OF ASSUMPTION BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
THEME: CONQUEROR OF SIN AND DEATH
BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong (St Mary Magdalene Cath. Church, Omaha, USA.)
20th Sunday, Yr B, 15th August 2021.
Solemnity of the Assumption of the BVM
1. Body and Soul on Earth. After trick-or-treating on Halloween, as the story goes, a 12-year-old boy takes a shortcut through a cemetery. Halfway across, he is startled by tapping and chipping noise coming from the misty shadows. Trembling with fear, he spots an old man chipping away at a tombstone. The boy felt some relief and said to the man: “Oh, you scared me, I thought you were a ghost. Why are you working so late?” The old man responded: “Oh, I’m fixing my name on my tombstone because those idiots misspelled my name”. Well, you got the joke. Souls of the dead do not do the things we do while we are here on our earthly journeys. This mortal life, this life of our body and soul on earth, is our only chance to have our names “spelt correctly”, to do good and avoid evil. After death of the body, the immortal soul meets a destiny appropriate for the life spent on earth. For the Blessed Virgin Mary, after the conclusion of her earthly journey, she met a destiny appropriate for her role as the Mother of God. Sacred Scripture says clearly, she was full of grace (Lk 1:28), had the Holy Spirit come upon her, conceived in her womb, and bore Jesus, the Son of God (Lk 1:35). In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 1:39-56), when Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, acknowledged Mary and the pre-born Jesus as “Blessed”, Mary herself gave all the glory to God her Savior: “The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.” Mary so beautifully spelled out God’s glory in her Magnificat that in the Catholic Church, we use her words in praising God every day, officially, at Evening Prayer. Brothers and sisters, the great things God did for her, were done for our sake, for our salvation from sin and death, which means, salvation of our bodies and souls.
2. Body and Soul in Heaven. In today’s 2nd reading (1 Cor 15:20-27), the great things God did for Mary, the great things God has done, is doing and will continue to do for all of us, namely, victory over sin and death, are recounted. Indeed, “Christ has been raised from the dead.” The implication is clearly stated, and we believe it: Christ will also raise us up. “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, (1 Cor 15:22). Aha, aha, sisters and brothers, that “proper order” of the great things God has done and is doing for us, is what we celebrate today. Today’s first reading (Rv 11:19; 12:1-6, 10), gives a glimpse of that “proper order”: “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.” (Rev 12:1). Then the evil one arose to oppose God’s work, yet, “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.” (Rev 12:5). That refers to the ascension of our resurrected Lord. What next for His mother? The Catholic Church teaches, in accord with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (great things God has done, not written down, Jn 21:25): “…the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #966; Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus). This is exactly what the our Lord Jesus Christ, conqueror of sin and death, has promised to do for each of us at the end of time. He will raise us up, join our souls to glorified bodies in Heaven, just as He has already done for His Blessed Mother, with whom we join to pray even now: the Almighty has done great things for us, and holy is His Name!