Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary--15 August
of the Blessed Virgin,
Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618 - 1682)
[Ordinary of the Mass]
[Blessing of First Fruits]
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In celebrating the
feast of the Assumption, the Church has us consider that God created
Adam and Eve in the immaculate sinlessness and had they persevered in
that state, they would have been preserved free from all suffering and
even from death.
But our first parents
had free will—just as we do—because without free will they would have
been unable to honor God in any way—without free will they would not
have been capable of being saints or sinners—they would have been more
like robots. Unfortunately, they used that free will to disobey God,
and suffering and death entered the world.
But no sooner had
they committed their fatal sin, than God announced His plan to forgive
them and their fallen descendants. He would send His Son, born of a
woman, and they would figuratively crush the head of the serpent; for
the serpent represented sin and the temptation to sin.
He sent the woman
into the world—the second Eve, creating her in immaculate sinlessness
from the very moment of her conception. And He sent His own Son into
the world—the second Adam—taking human nature from that second Eve, but
likewise free from every stain of sin.
And just like the
first Adam and Eve, Jesus and Mary had perfectly free wills, for again,
free will is necessary if we are to honor God. But unlike Adam and Eve,
Jesus and Mary used that free will in lives of perfect obedience to God
the Father. The words of Mary at the Annunciation—“Be it done to me
according to thy word”—are
representative of her entire lifetime of obedience to God's will—not
just at one moment, but for all of her years on earth. She obeyed God
in becoming the mother of His Son, and again in giving Him up to His
death on the Cross, and at every other moment of her life.
By virtue of this
perfect obedience; this perfect conformity to the will of God, we can
say that she shared in His victory over sin and death. In obedience, He
allowed Himself to be crucified, but then He rose from the dead and
ascended into heaven, body and soul. In similar obedience, she too gave
herself over to the will of God, and at the end of her earthly life she
was assumed body and soul into heaven to be with her beloved Son—a
fitting triumph over suffering and death for the second Eve.
In a certain sense,
this feast of Mary's Assumption is our feast also, for the triumph of
Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother over sin and death constitutes our
redemption, and teaches us what we must do for our salvation.
Mary had free will
just as we do—she could have sinned but never did. So this feast of her
glorious Assumption into heaven is tangible proof that we too can be
victorious over sin and death—that through the grace of God and the
intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary we can conform our wills to the
will of God and spend eternity in their most blessed company.