Saturday, August 16, 2008

Feast of the Assumption

I preached this homily during the feast of the assumption 2008 at St Mike's. Because of it's strong apologetics flavor I also posted it in the forums (Those of you who listen to Catholic Answers know what I'm talking about), I was pleased by the reception so I hope you enjoy to.
Revelation 11:19,12:
"Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter."

Today we are celebrating the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother. To be more specific, we are celebrating that (To paraphrase Pope Pius XXII) “When the course of her earthly life was finished, Mary the Mother of Jesus, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, to be exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she will be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death”
The Church has defined 4 Marian dogmas as infallible truths: Mary the Mother of God, Mary born without sin (What we call the Immaculate Conception), Mary’s perpetual virginity even after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of course what we are celebrating today, her bodily assumption into heaven. Like I said before these are Dogmas of faith which means that as Catholics we must believe them and when I say MUST I mean that “if we do not profess this belief we should not call ourselves Catholic”.
Now I know what you are thinking, nobody likes to be told what they should or should not believe, especially in religious matters. It would help if we could just pick up the bible and look for a passage that describes Mary going into heaven like the stories of the prophet Elisha or Her Son, our Lord Jesus. But as you might know there is no place in the bible in which we can find this.
This is why Marian dogmas are one of the biggest stumbling blocks for non-Catholics to accept the Church as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. Because when they turn to their bibles they can’t find a specific place in which these events are described clearly.
So today, since we are celebrating the assumption, what I’m going to do is show you the one passage which proves that, by the divine power of her Son the blessed mother was taken into heaven body and soul. A passage that in fact proofs that our lady, is, right now, as we speak, been honored as Queen of the heavens and earth, clothed with the brightness of the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of stars over Her head, with myriads of angels exalting her as the most pure expression of arc of the covenant, and with choirs of saints repeating “blessed are thou among woman and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”. Ok get your bibles out (Ups I’m sorry… For a second I thought I was in protestant Church …) Not to worry I brought my own… Now pay attention because this is a very important passage for Christians: Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother”
You might be thinking, “wait a second; that is the fourth commandment!” And you are right! You see the church teaches that the blessed mother was brought to heaven by her son to be honored, not because we want to place Mary at the same level as God, but because the church has always taught that Jesus is 100% human.
Paul explains it in simple terms when he says that “Jesus was like us except in sin”. If you turn to Gospels you see that everything Jesus did, throughout His life, was to bring honor and glory to His father. Right? Well?...What about His mother? If Jesus was true man, and he followed the 10 commandments how can he honor his father with all of his human and divine abilities but not His mother?

Think about it this way, which parent here have never been told by a child, “When I grow up I’m going to buy you a big house, a big car, I’m going to take you for a trip around the world, I’m going to give you anything you want!”
Or let me give you another example: I ask those of you here whose parents have passed away…If it were in your power wouldn’t you want to see them again and talk to them and let them share in your lives?
My brothers and sisters, if we say that we believe Jesus is true man; what we are saying is that he had the same feelings towards His mother as we have towards ours. The only difference is that Jesus has the power to do those things we can only wish we could do! To think that after he went to heaven He somehow forgot about the woman that gave him life is to think that He is beyond the normal feelings of a any human being.
So, you see, when the church says that we must believe in this dogma, it is not because we are trying to make Mary similar to God but because The Church is trying to make us understand what we mean when we say that Jesus is true man and true God. There is no other way, to believe that Jesus can love His mother any less than how much we can love our own mothers is to believe that Jesus is less man than us! And that my brothers and sister is a repugnant blasphemy! A blasphemy we should all reject!
So, in this feast of the assumption of the blessed mother, what we are truly celebrating is the humanity of Jesus and not (like some people erroneously think) the divinity of Mary. We celebrate the fact that Jesus is a good son… we celebrate the fact that he is a much better son than we can ever be… The fact that He is the best son ever.
In a few seconds, we will profess our faith, when we say that “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, eternally begotten of the father God from God light from light true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the father” and that this same Lord Jesus Christ “ came down from heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary and BECAME MAN” We profess the fact at this very moment in heaven Mary’s boy is trying with all of His power to honor her and show her how much he loves Her. How can we say this? We do not need to read it in the bible… We just need to look at ourselves and realize that if we had the power that Jesus has, we would be doing the same thing.