The feast of Mary’s Assumption has been passed on through the monks in Jerusalem, it was celebrated as a feast every 15th of August and it was called “Memory of Mary”. It was a public holiday from the time of Emperor Mauritius (602 AD) and was called the Dormition or the Passing; but today is called the “Assumption of the Mother of God”.
In November 1, 1950, this feast was declared as a Church Dogma by Pope Pius XII, this was the day of the Feast of All Saints as well. It was declared that Mary’s body was incorruptible and did not decay.
The concept of assumption is found in Scriptures; from the Old Testament we have the cases of Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elias (2 Kings 2:1-12), it was also the belief among the Jews that Moses was also taken up to heaven and later on Moslems also came to believe that Mohammed also was taken up to heaven in a chariot. Scriptures then support the Assumption in the Book of Revelation 12, where it was written of the “woman” depicted with a crown on her head with 12 stars, and a moon under her “feet”.
The Church has taught that Mary was free from original sin and from any subsequent sin from the moment that she was conceived in the womb of St. Anne, it was God’s design to give her the fullness of grace. The Scriptures reveal that Wisdom (the Spirit of God) will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin. (Wis 1:4). So God had to prepare Mary for this role of becoming the Mother of God; for God now would “enter and dwell in her” – the Incarnation.
In Luke 1:28, the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary, “Hail full, of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women”. By this fullness of grace, she is also known as the Immaculate Conception, meaning “immaculate” from the moment of conception. She was already prepared by God for the Incarnation of His Son, Mary was already one with Christ from the beginning therefore she would not undergo death like the way “sinners” do.
The Ascension of the Lord is different from the Assumption of Mary because Jesus has His Divine Nature. Mary is partaking in what is called the Assumption which in Latin literarily means “the action of being taken up or receive” to Heaven—in a way as being privileged. Mary is part of the Salvific plan of God; as God was incarnated, the Word was made flesh (Jn 1:14) through Mary. Therefore, Mary’s body is immaculate and overcomes death.
In First Corinthians chapter fifteen, St. Paul states that in Christ or being unified with Christ shall be made alive, “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
What then is the Assumption of Mary speaking to us by our baptism?
Through baptism, we are made a new creation as children of God; as the children of Light, we become Light ourselves. Through baptism, we died and are buried with Christ’s death so that as He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we are to walk in the newness of life.
It is important to recognise that through this we become the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Indwelling. We therefore have been cleansed from original sin, so like Mary we also become the “Dwelling of God”.
Like Mary, she overcame death because she is perfectly unified with Christ. We also find Canonized Saints who have incorruptible bodies as signs of overcoming death.
As our Mother Mary lovingly invites us to be part of this exultation in the mystery of Her Assumption; we will also be “taken up into” Paradise, into heaven. It is an invitation of detachment from worldly matters.
Detachment from worldly matters is dying to ones self. The Sacrament of Baptism made us a new creation in our unity with Christ who now lives within us, we acknowledge and renew this unity every time we receive Him in the Eucharist during mass. Therefore, our lives are now one with Christ, so we no longer live by ourselves, but that Christ lives in us.
Through Divine Indwelling, we overcome death. God’s plan is that we become bearers of Light and this Light is His very own Spirit, now our very own life.
Mary’s Assumption reminds and leads us to our unity with the Living God in order for us to experience Heaven at a present moment. In our case as baptized, being united with the true presence of God in Spirit already make us “being” with God.
It is where God is; it is a gift & a grace. Through Mary’s Assumption we are reminded that we are supposed to “assume” the truth that through Baptism we “have already been taken into heaven.” But we need to “assume” into our spirit where God dwells.
We are vessels of Christ, our body is the vessel of the Spirit of the Living God. Like in Mary’s Assumption, she was taken up to Heaven with body and soul because she is the bearer of the Holy Spirit and united with Christ; this is also why we call Her, the Ark of the New Covenant.
Mother Mary invites us to live with her in Paradise – in the Paradise where God dwells. “Paradise is found only in the Light of the Most Holy Trinity, with Jesus and with Mary.” To live the Divine Indwelling or to be one with the Trinity within the center of our soul is to respond in faith and humility like a little child that we are already with God in us.
As Mary said “yes” during the annunciation of Angel Gabriel, we also say “yes” to God’s invitation to open our hearts and let ourselves be united with the presence of God in Spirit in us. Then we shall live in Paradise —In Him we move, in Him we live, in Him we have our being.
Therefore, I pray: may the Light of God who is in us enlighten the whole world so that the Kingdom of God be manifested to all; for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Death has already been overcome by the power of God who lives and dwells within our inmost being.