In this week’s Gospel, we take a break from John 6 to celebrate the Assumption of Mary.
Some people—most of all, our non-Catholic brothers and sisters—struggle with this teaching. And why wouldn’t they?
Many other denominations take the stance that the body is just a cage for a soul of infinite value. If that is the case, why would a bodily assumption of anyone but Jesus (whose very Flesh is divine) even matter? Why hoist a mere “cage” into heaven?
Yet, we as Catholics recognize the body as much more than a “cage.” In paragraph 364 of the Catechism, we read, “Man... is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.” Paragraph 365 goes on, “Spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” (Emphasis added.)
Many also struggle with the Church’s understanding of the assumption because the event is not recorded in the Bible. Again, this is understandable because many protestant faiths believe only what is recorded in the Bible. But even the Bible itself explains many holy things are not recorded in Scripture (John 21: 25).
So why do we believe in the Assumption?
Short answer: Because Mary was (and remains) the new Ark of the Covenant which was taken up to Heaven. Compare the “overshadowing” in Exod 40:34-35 and Luke 1:35. Compare the language in 2 Samuel 6:9 and Luke 1:43. Compare the “leaping” in 2 Samuel 6:15-16 and Luke 1:41- 42. Finally, compare the time period of three months in 2 Samuel 6:11 and Luke 1:56.
And although the doctrine wasn’t formalized until Pope Pius XII, it has always been the teaching of the Church.
John of Damascus (born a few years ago in the 8th century) wrote, “Today, the holy, incomparable virgin enters the heavenly sanctuary that lies above the universe... Today the holy, living ark of the living God, the one who has carried her own maker within herself, comes to her rest in the temple of the Lord not made by hands.”
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