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Homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

13 Aug 2021, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei, Sermons

Today, the Mother Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and together with the universal Church, we gather here this morning to honor her whom God himself has honored.

Some time ago, a friend asked to be clarified of the difference between Assumption and Ascension. I answered thus; the Assumption of Mary is because of the Ascension of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and his Ascension into heaven is about God’s power and authority over death, a return to his glory. Mary’s Assumption into heaven on the other hand is a privilege and a reward for a life of faithfulness to God. Haven said this; I would expect a question like, is the Assumption of Mary biblical? The answer would be no, even though some Catholics would like to make references to “biblical vestiges.” The Church’s proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 1st November 1950 has its base on Sacred Tradition, which I hold dear to my heart. The Church’s Sacred Tradition is not anti-Bible nor anti-Christian faith; it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The same St. Paul who proclaimed that all scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) also said to the Thessalonian Church and to every Christian, to believe in the Sacred Tradition. “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15.) The Mother Church affirms two Sacred sources of our Christian faith; The Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition. If all that Christ did were written down, the world itself would not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25). Some facts were orally handed down in the Church, including the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary shouldn’t provoke unnecessary arguments, a distraction for the body of Christ. Believers in Christ have submitted to the power of arguments for so long, allowing themselves to be plagued by unprofitable controversies and antagonism that avails the devil the opportunity to unleash his venom on those who are supposed to be victors. We win, not by arguments but by faith in Christ Jesus. The solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary glorifies God; It is a call to the supremacy of Jesus Christ and the beauty of the humility and faith of Mary, his mother. The Church’s belief and celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a reminder to every Christian that where Jesus the head leads, we follow. The Blessed Virgin Mary is an impeccable example of humility and faith, the virtues we genuinely need to follow where the Master leads. Jesus ascended into heaven to lead the way, to show you and me the way to the Father. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Though Mary gave birth to Jesus, she recognizes him as the Lord and the way to the Father. Mary’s Assumption into heaven is a reward for her faithfulness and submissiveness to the will and power of God, a privilege.  

The Church believes in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and celebrates it with great confidence. This celebration reminds us of the undisputable position of faith and humility in the practice of Christianity. We believe and celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary not because she died for us; no, Christ did. But the Assumption has become for us a beacon of the unimaginable reward for faith in Christ and humble submissiveness to the will and power of God. Mary’s faith and humility won her not only the Assumption but a crown of glory. In our first reading from the book of revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10b, John  saw a vision, “a woman appeared in heaven clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

In our second reading from Luke 1:39-56, Mary magnified God for his faithfulness and declares that all generations will call her blessed, a blessedness resulting from faithfulness to God. Elizabeth praised Mary’s faith; “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45). That is what we celebrate today, the reward for faithfulness, for trusting every word from the mouth of God.

The Church especially calls on her children this day to not only honor Mary but to learn from her to listen to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, for we live not by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

God favored Mary, the angel Gabriel honored her, and the Church proudly honor and celebrate her today and always to the glory of God. We are not ashamed to proclaim the marvelous works of God, for Mary herself magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced and praised God (Luke 1:46-55). Let us, therefore, as sons and daughters of God imitate the faith and humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and so wear the crown of glory.