14th & 15th August 2021

posted 23 Aug 2021, 07:36 by Parish Office

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption (14 & 15/8/21)

The Assumption of Our Lady – it’s a most beautiful and wonderful feast. The Catholic faith is most truly beautiful at its heart. The love a son has for his mother is always a beautiful thing; but the love the Son of God has for His Mother is more beautiful yet. So the Assumption is a bit like a thank you present. But there are other reasons for it too.

Today’s preface says, “rightly you would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb, since from her body she marvellously brought forth your incarnate Son, the Author of all life”. Why should the Author of life allow His Mother to face the corruption of the tomb? After what she had done for the human race in giving us Jesus, would there not be something incongruous, something going against the grain, for His Mother to be buried, and for her body to decay in the grave? Everything is interlinked. There are certain truths, or dogmas, that we are obliged to believe as Catholics about Our Lady, and they all connect together: Mary as Mother of God, Mary as ever-virgin, Mary as the Immaculate Conception and Mary assumed into heaven.

It’s because of Our Lady’s role as Mother of God that all the others follow. Our Lady was conceived immaculate, without Original Sin, as she declared herself at Lourdes, and as Pope Pius IX had explained a few years before. That meant she was totally free to follow God – she is the holiest of all the saints, the one who followed God the most perfectly, the only saint not to commit a single sin whilst on earth. All of this was a gift to her from God – she didn’t “earn” to be conceived immaculate. Just as Christ’s Death in the future brought the possibility of salvation to all those who had died before Him, so His Death enabled Our Lady to be the Immaculate Conception. Since death entered the world through sin, would it have been appropriate for Our Lady’s tomb to be with us, with a body that had decayed centuries ago? It could have remained incorrupt, but that would have given her a status only the same as other saints whose bodies are also incorrupt. Unlike them, Our Lady did not inherit Original Sin when she was conceived; unlike them, she did not commit sin and need to seek God’s forgiveness. Our Lady is in a different league altogether.

Our Lady is “blessed Mary ever-virgin” as we say in the “I Confess”. This means that she became Mother of God through a miracle. It means that she

gave birth to Christ in a miraculous way, or as Vatican II put it, Christ’s birth, “did not diminish His mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it” (Lumen Gentium 57). It means that after the birth of Christ, she did not have any other children – she is the Mother of God, and the Mother of God alone. She was set aside completely for the Lord. It makes sense that at the end of her life, she was assumed into heaven.

Death came into the world because of sin. We are all sinners, and that is why we die. Whilst the Catholic Church does allow cremation, burial is preferred from a symbolic point of view. Death is not the end. Not only do our souls have the hope of going to heaven, but also our bodies too. Our Lady already enjoys life in heaven, both soul and body. When Christ returns in glory, our bodies will be resurrected and glorified too. Our Lady, in her Assumption, points towards our future.

The Assumption, as I mentioned, is a dogma too. It was declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950, after the horrors of the Second World War, when the dignity of the body had been so undermined, not to forget the First World War as well. Our Lady was presented to the Church as a sign of hope.

Last year, in March 2020, Our Lady was presented to this country as a sign of hope as well. In The Apocalypse, shortly after today’s first reading, it says that the dragon “vomited water from his mouth, like a river, after the woman, to sweep her away in the current, but the earth came to her rescue; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river thrown up by the dragon’s jaws” (12:15-16). We were in preparation for the re-dedication of England to Our Lady as her dowry when we went into lockdown. But the rededication still happened. You can view it on the website – www.behold2020.com We are invited, if we haven’t done so already, to join in with the rededication by consecrating ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Just as in 1950 Our Lady was presented to the Church as a sign of hope, today the rededication reminds us that Our Lady is still with us, looking after us and interceding for us. And just as God conquered in the heart of Our Lady, so today, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph.