20th Sunday – Year B
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Lord Crowns His Mother with Glory,
The Virgin Mary Exalts the Lord
(Lk.1:47ff; Rv. 12:1)
Here, in Jerusalem, “the mother of all Churches”, we have two empty tombs: that of the Lord and that of His Mother. Germanus of Constantinople (ca.715 A.D.) mentions “Gethsemane” as the place of the Virgin Mother’s tomb. This is probably an argument in “contradiction” to Ephesus that was much closer to Byzantium than Jerusalem was. Without entering into ulterior polemics, let us consider the parallel established by Germanus between the agony suffered by Jesus and that of His Mother. The same author writes: “A beloved son (and full of love) wants the presence of his mother; and in turn, a mother wants to live close to her son. Therefore, it was correct, Oh Blessed Virgin Mary, that you ascend towards your Son, you whose heart burnt with the love of God who was to become the fruit of thy womb. It was opportune and necessary for God, who nurtured, in his human nature, a pure filial love to His Mother’s stance that He would call her to live next to Him. Thus, Oh Blessed Virgin, you died for all mortal things and you were transported to the celestial and immortal abode where God resides. From now on you will not leave the lovely and divine company. You were the corporeal abode where He had taken repose, and now He becomes your repose in the very body that He had received from you, O Mother of God! He had attracted you to Him and liberated you of all corruption.”
A Byzantine refrain chanted: “In your holy Dormition, you were transported to eternal life, to be surrounded by angels, first order of the third celestial hierarchy, the apostles and prophets… Oh, betrothed of the Spirit, Virgin Mother who incarnated the Life! As to your spirit, pure of all blemish (thus, prior to this sentence, it meant the body of the Virgin was assumed to be in Heaven), it was received by the pure hands of your Son”.
Theological and scriptural basis of the Assumption
Common sense indicates that the fourth commandment is the divine and human basis for the Assumption: “You will honor your father and your mother”! Chapter 12 of the Revelation speaks about a meaningful and magnificent vision “in heaven (not beneath the dust of the sepulcher): a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars”. How could we not see the Virgin Mother in this Woman? Some “enemies of Mary” (particularly in the Anglo-Saxon world) insist upon seeing therein “the nation of Israel” in completely describing it as the mother of the Messiah – despite the ensuing verses of the Revelation 12:2ff. Others, even Catholics, insist in recognizing therein “the Church”, mother of the faithful. Yet, it is painful, not only to “observe” in this cosmic manifestation the glory of the Church but particularly to justify the negation of identifying the Virgin in this text.
Beyond all arguments of more or less weary intellectuals, let us cling to the living Christ, who sought to glorify His Mother and St. Joseph, in a divine gesture by honoring the spiritual paternity and a maternity, the giver and defender of life by imparting respect to the Woman “mother of all living beings”! Let us venerate in the Virgin Mother and her chaste spouse the double gift “of fertile virginity”!
By Fr. P. Madros