Readings at Mass (Saturday)
These readings are for the Vigil Mass on the evening before the feast:
|1 Chronicles 15:3-4,15-16,16:1-2 ©|
|Psalm 131:6-7,9-10,13-14 ©|
|1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 11:27-28 ©|
These readings are for the day of the feast itself:
|Apocalypse 11:19,12:1-6,10 ©|
|Psalm 44:10-12,16 ©|
|1 Corinthians 15:20-26 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 1:39-56 ©|
Readings at Mass (Sunday)
|First reading||Proverbs 9:1-6 ©|
|Psalm 33:2-3,10-15 ©|
|Ephesians 5:15-20 ©|
|Gospel||John 6:51-58 ©|
Transcript of “Flesh of My Flesh” – Assumption & 20th Sunday OT 2015
Far from all the soot and noise of the city,
There’s a village green.
It’s been a long time
Since I last set eyes on the church with the steeple
Down by the village green.
And today is the feast day, the solemn feast, the 15th of August, of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven. And tomorrow, too, I’m going to preach on this important aspect of our faith, the role of Mary as the model of what it means to be a disciple. And she’s also the pattern of holiness that the Church must follow so we can enter into heaven.
Now, I was talking with some of my brother priests earlier this week, and they’re saying, “Oh, how are you going to tie that to the bread of life, the Eucharist?” right? We’re hearing the bread of life discourse for many months. And I shared last week about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And believe it or not, I will tie together the importance of Mary, the mother of God, and the flesh and blood we receive in the Eucharist. You’ll see some connections here.
First, what is the best image that I’ve come across to articulate the role of Mary, especially the dogma that is proclaimed and that we commemorate today, that she has been assumed, both body and soul, already to heaven? Other than Christ, she’s the only creature that has bodily already preceded us into heaven. When our loved ones have passed away, we long for the resurrection of the body. But our souls are in purgatory, then to heaven. But we wait for the bodily resurrection.
But with Mary, she’s already bodily in heaven, okay? So that’s the uniqueness there. A lot of times, people think the assumption of Mary is that we assume she’s in heaven, okay? No, I can assume or I can longingly expect to see my grandma or my grandpa in heaven, okay? That’s not what the dogma of Mary is about here.
So what’s the image that, as I said, that I like to use is the image of one of the titles she’s had. And we sing it in a lot of those Marian hymns. And it’s in Latin, it’s Stella Maris. In Latin, that means star of the sea. But it’s also a play on her name because Mary comes from Miriam in the Old Testament. Marian [inaudible 00:02:37] here too, okay? All of it comes from the same Hebrew name, Miriam, which means from the water or from the sea.
And so the Latin phrase Stella Maris had a whole bunch of connotations. But the long and short of it is this, and it’s analogy for our spiritual life here on earth, that while we’re on earth, we are pilgrims on the earth, yes, or we’re seafarers, like we’re on a journey. But we’re ultimately going to a final destination. We have our home. We have Eden where we’re from. But ultimately, our final home, our final resting place is heaven.
And so the image of a seafaring journey was used often in the tradition of the church. And so when Mary’s called the Star of the Sea, the Stella Maris, it’s reminded that in the old days, when they used to travel at sea, the only way safely to get from one side to the other of an ocean or sea was to use the stars to navigate, right? Long before there was clocks and longitude-latitude, you had to use the stars. And if you had a clear night and you could see the brightest stars, the brightest star in the sky was the Star of the Sea, the True North, right? And that was the Stella Maris. And if you keep your eyes fixed on it, you can safely get to your destination.
So that’s one of the images that I love, and our Knights of Columbus, we use that. That’s why you have the anchor on your logo, okay? This idea that the anchor represents hope, the theological virtue, but also represents the Blessed Virgin Mary, who keeps us on the right path, because we know that if we follow her example, one day, we’ll become saints too in heaven, because our mother will gently guide us there and protect us.
A few other important images, and I’ll just draw on a few scripture passages that speak to Mary’s role as the model disciple and also the model of what it means to be the Catholic church here on earth. And you can tell this is something I could speak hours about, as I have. Mary is the most tender and my most loving topic I like to share about, outside of Christ, is the role of Mary in our lives because of my own story, which I won’t get into. But I just know that she’s always been there, gently pointing me to Jesus, her son.
One of the other images we have, and I read in the gospel story, when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, her cousin. And we have this incident where John the Baptist, the baby, is leaping in the womb, okay? So just a little bit of context, which is something that is quite profound. In the Old Testament, remember when Moses is given the laws, the Ten Commandments, the tablets? And they placed them in the Ark of the Covenant. It’s this beautiful gold carrying case. And the Israelite people believed that the Ark of the Covenant is really the word of God, it’s the law of God, was inscribed on tablets. And the people would believe that almost God was dwelling with them whenever that law, the word inscribed on tablets, was in their midst, that God was there with them.
And there’s a story with David. It’s a weird story, if you just take it out of context. But they’re bringing the Ark of the Covenant, with the stone tablets, into the city. And David strips down naked, like the day he was born. And he’s dancing with joy. And his wife gets jealous, and all this stuff happens. And they ask David, “Why are you leaping for joy?” He says, “Because our lord has come to dwell under our roof, pitched his tabernacle, pitched his tents, in our midst. Our Lord comes to the humblest little tent. And that brings joy.”
Okay, so you flash forward to the story that we just read of Elizabeth and Mary, what happens here? You have a child, the last prophet, really, just like David before, but the last prophet, John the Baptist, in his own mother’s womb, is leaping for joy. Because what? The word actually that was inscribed in flesh, God himself, has come to dwell under her house.
And the next little image you need to understand. Why is Mary so important? Why is Mary so important? Because as this beautiful creature without sin, she always says yes to God. There’s one of the stories in the gospel where . . . And if you read it wrong, people think it’s something insulting even to speak of Mary. And it’s when he goes to his hometown, and they say, “Lord, your mother and your brothers and sisters, they’re all here waiting for you.” And Jesus says something, he says, “No, my mother and my brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and obey it, listen to it.” And it’s not an insult to Mary. In fact, what he’s doing is he’s saying, “Ah, if only you were like my mother.” Why? Because, okay, we can hear God say lots of stuff to us, right? There’s a difference between hearing and listening. You can tell your grandchildren, as I’ve shared with you, you can say a lot of things to them, they can hear you, yeah, yeah, yeah. But if they listen to it, like “Go clean your room,” they say “Yes,” and they go do it, right? Okay, they obey it. In Latin, obedire means to listen, not just to hear, but obedire means to listen to, right?
So when we say Mary, not only did she hear God’s plan, God’s love story, love plan, and his promise that from you will be born the Messiah. She heard it. And not knowing completely how it’s going to work out, but trusting in faith of God, she obeyed it.
And what happened to God’s word? It wasn’t even just inscribed on tablets or wood or stone. It took flesh in her life. The word became flesh, and he pitched his tent amongst us.
So Mary, you see, her obedience, she is the greatest disciple. She’s the first disciple. She’s the greatest. So when we look to Mary, when we ask for her help to bless our families, to protect us, to guide us, we see in her the model of what it means to say yes to the word of God. And what happens when we say yes to God? Our lives are never the same. They’re changed. The word actually takes flesh in our life, and we become more like Christ.
So friends, as we continue this feast day and this beautiful weekend, we celebrate the role of Mary. May we say yes like her. May we keep our eyes fixed on her, because she’ll lead us to our heavenly homeland, where Christ himself, who took flesh and blood from Mary herself . . . Remember, I said how I’m going to tie this together. You got to think about this. Even biologically, the flesh and blood, the very genetics from the human. Jesus is divine, but he’s human. The genetics of who Jesus was was a human came from his mother, his mother. So when she looked down upon her child or Joseph looked upon the Son of God, he had the features of the blessed mother. She could look down and actually see the face of God but also see her own family, her own blood line being taken up by her son, Jesus Christ.
This is a profound mystery. That same flesh and blood that feeds us in the Eucharist every time we come, which is true food, true drink, that brings life to the world. So Mother Mary, we ask that you protect us, that you guide us, so that we, feeding on the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, will reach the safe shores of our heavenly home.