August 16 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Just yesterday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since it was not a holy day of obligation this year because it fell on Saturday, I thought it is still worth writing about for today’s bulletin article.
The doctrine of the Assumption of Mary states: “We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” (Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950) While this teaching is not explicitly stated in sacred Scripture, there are references to it in Church tradition as far back as the sixth century CE.
The Assumption is a feast wrapped in mystery. We know very little about Mary – when she died, where she died, who was there. Yet our faith and the ancient tradition of the church TELL THAT Mary was assumed in her full humanity – body and soul – to thee eternal, face-to-face vision of God. A mystery of faith means we cannot fully understand or explain it, yet it teaches us something about God and God’s ways. The Second Vatican Council taught that “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.” Mary’s assumption holds out hope to all of us who struggle in this life. The Feast of the Assumption is about God raising Mary – and all of us – to the fullness of life in Christ.
There are many ways to explain what it means to be a Christian, many paths by which we might describe how to follow Christ. But today’s Scriptures present us with a very practical description: a Christian is one who reaches across boundaries. We live in a world of boundaries. We are divided, time and again, one against another. Our planet is divided into different countries separated by distinct languages and customs. Our city is divided into neighborhoods. Some of us are white, others are black or yellow. Some of us are gay, others are straight. Some of us are rich, others are poor. Some of us are male, others are female. Sometimes the argument is made that these divisions are healthy and that we will be most happy and most safe when we remain separated from one another. When this viewpoint is translated into social policies, it gives rise to segregation, apartheid, or designing the master race. It is a sad fact of history that a society divided does not lead to peace but rather to violence, war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, or holocaust. Jesus reached across boundaries – we are called to do the same!
Have a blessed week!