15 Aug 2012
Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary – August 15, 2012
August 15, 2012
By Father J. Daniel Atkins, Holy Family Catholic Church, New Albany, Indiana
This is from the 8 a.m. Mass that Father had with the students from Holy Family Catholic School:
Good morning! Our God has called us together today to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus, into heaven. Today we celebrate her going home to God; to be with her Son Jesus in the Presence of God and happiness of heaven. We do not know about what happened at the end of Mary’s life, whether like Elijah she was taken up into heaven without dying, or whether like each of us she died. The gospels do not tell us about the end of Mary’s life here on earth. All we know in faith is that she is with God, body and soul in heaven.
Why do we believe that God took Mary, body and soul to heaven? To answer that question it would be good to look at what the scriptures tell us today. Do you remember that in the first reading St. John tells us that he saw a beautiful vision heaven opening up and revealing the Ark of the Covenant?
What was the Ark of the Covenant? (Student: It was a gold box and it had spirits inside it.)
Well, yes, it was a gold box. I think the spirits were from the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” though.
The real Ark of the Covenant was a beautiful gold box which held the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments. It also held some of the manna, the bread that God had made fall from the sky to feed the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert. The Chosen People took the Ark of the Covenant with them wherever they went. God traveled with his people. When they camped they would put up a tent over the Ark and then a beautiful shining cloud would come and hover over the tent to let God’s people know that he was inside. That was the Ark of the Old Testament.
Can you see why Mary the Mother of Jesus is sometime called the Ark of the New Covenant?
Yes, because God made his home in her. You know that when she first came to be God freed her from all sin so that she could be the perfect home for Jesus. When she said yes to being the mother of God, Jesus lived inside her womb for nine months. You heard how Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth today in the gospel. Jesus went with her, inside her. Elizabeth and her baby could sense that the Presence of God was dwelling in Mary and she cried out for joy. Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant.
Now tell me something else: What is that gold box on the side altar up there in front?
(Student: the tabernacle.)
That’s right. The tabernacle holds the consecrated bread which has become the Body of Christ. Jesus dwells here in that gold box, ready to come to you and to be taken to people who are sick.
Tell me something: Do you think we would ever throw that box (the tabernacle) away?
(Students are shaking their heads ‘no’.)
Of course not. It has held the Body of Christ; it has been given a special purpose. Now, stay with me here. If we would never throw away this beautiful box that has held the Body of Christ, do you think that God would throw away the body of Mary that was the home of his Son, Jesus. Of course not!
That is why we believe that God has taken Mary home – body and soul – to be with him in heaven. Her whole person, body and soul, is precious to him. And you know what. God has done this so that you and I can be certain that he intends to do the same thing for us. Someday we will be with God in heaven, everything that we are – body and soul. Let’s treat our bodies and our souls with love and respect. We are precious to God. More precious than a box of gold.