The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
16th August 2020
Year A – Psalter week 4
The Apocalypse is a very mysterious book of the bible. There is so much symbolism that could be interpreted in multiple ways. Today’s first reading is no exception.
Who do the characters in the vision represent? We can be fairly sure that the male child is the Messiah, that is, Jesus Christ. We are told that he is destined to “rule all the nations with an iron scepter,” a quotation from Psalm 2, which is an accepted description of the Messiah. We can also be sure that the dragon ultimately represents Satan. In the ancient Near East, the serpent was a mythological symbol of evil, as described, for example, in the book of Genesis.
Who does the woman represent? She is “adorned with the sun,” is “standing on the moon,” and has “twelve stars on her head for a crown.” And “she was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.” She gives birth to the “male child,” the Messiah. This woman could be both an individual person and a collective symbol. As an individual person she is Mary, the Mother of Jesus the Messiah, and the spiritual mother of us, his disciples. But the woman in the vision is also a collective symbol, in that she represents not only the faithful people of Israel in the Old Testament, crying out for their Messiah, but also the Church of the New Testament, attacked by the devil for witnessing to Jesus.
There need be no contradiction between these interpretations. In fact, Mary brings them all together. In her person, she represents the perfection of Old Testament Israel. Born a Jew, she was, thanks to God’s grace, filled with faith, was perfectly obedient to the Jewish Law, and eagerly awaited the coming of the Messiah. She is also the perfect expression of the New Testament Church. She was ever faithful to Jesus, and was the perfect disciple, even when it meant enduring her bitter suffering at the foot of the cross. She was there too, with the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church at Pentecost.
On this feast of the Assumption, the Church provides us with this reading from Apocalypse to help us reflect upon, and celebrate, Mary being taken up body and soul into heaven at the end of her life on earth. The Church also reminds us that we are not celebrating a feast for Mary alone. Mary, in her person, represents all the faithful people of the Old and New Covenants. As the Catechism says: “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body” (par. 974).
While in the reading from Apocalypse we gaze upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, in her heavenly glory, we also see what awaits us. Thanks to Jesus’ dying for each one of us on the cross, and to God’s grace working in our own lives today through the power of the Holy Spirit, we too can look forward in hope to our own resurrection, the bliss of our own bodies and souls being in God’s glorious presence in heaven for all eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Mary has been taken up to heaven; all the choirs of angels are rejoicing. Alleluia!