Saturday, August 14, 2010

AUGUST 15 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Vigil

"Assumption of the Virgin"
by Juan Martin Cabezalero, 1665-70
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Vigil

Background on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary [1]
Catechism Links
CCC 411, 966-971, 974-975, 2853: Mary, the New Eve, assumed into heaven
773, 829, 967, 972: Mary, eschatological icon of the Church
2673-2679: at prayer with Mary

Readings and Commentary: [3]

Reading 1:
1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2

David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the Lord
to the place which he had prepared for it.
David also called together the sons of Aaron and the Levites.

The Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders with poles,
as Moses had ordained according to the word of the Lord.

David commanded the chiefs of the Levites
to appoint their kinsmen as chanters,
to play on musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals,
to make a loud sound of rejoicing.

They brought in the ark of God and set it within the tent
which David had pitched for it.
Then they offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.
When David had finished offering up the burnt offerings and peace offerings,
he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.
Commentary on
1 Chr 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2

David assembles all of the 12 tribes and proposes to bring the ark into their midst. The Ark of the Covenant is recovered from Kiriath-jearim, of Judah where, according to the chronicler, it had been since Saul’s reign (1 Chronicles 13:1ff). David establishes the Levites (the traditional tribe of priests) to bring it in procession before the people and, recalling their desert tradition (Numbers 1:50) has it placed in a tent. Placed within the context of sacred history, this event changes the understanding and structure of the Hebrew peoples. They are united in God’s presence represented by the Ark of the Covenant; not simply because of its attributes thought to bring blessings to the people (2 Samuel 6:12).

Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 132:6-7, 9-10, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.

May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.

For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for her dwelling.
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.
Commentary on
Ps 132:6-7, 9-10, 13-14

Psalm 132 is a song of thanksgiving song by the community as they remember the establishment of God’s salvation expressed in the Davidic dynasty. The second strophe envisions the great temple built by David and the installation of the Ark of the Covenant in its permanent home.

Reading II:
1 Corinthians 15:54b-57

Brothers and sisters:
When that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality,
then the word that is written shall come about:

Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Commentary on
1 Cor 15:54b-57

This passage is St. Paul’s hymn of victory over death. It concludes his discourse on the resurrection. When the bodies of the elect, by resurrection or change become incorrupt, death is defeated, prophecy is fulfilled (
Isaiah 25:8), and the final victory is won. He loosely quotes Hosea 13:14 in which the “sting” of death is vanquished; a reference to the venomous sting of a serpent’s bite, the allegory to sin. The serpent without its sting can no longer harm those clothed in Christ.

St. Paul sees this as a perversion of the Law by which sin was defined and applied but without giving mankind the strength to avoid the sins so defined (see also
Romans 7:7-25). The hard work of the faithful Christian is not in vain as Christ’s victory is granted and salvation assured.
CCC: 1 Cor 15:56 602
Luke 11:27-28
While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied,
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Commentary on
Lk 11:27-28

This short saying of Jesus is not a contradiction of the woman who blesses Mother Mary; rather it is an assertion by the Lord that the message is more important, in his eyes, than that biological relationship. Mary is more blessed because she heard “the word of God” (see also
Luke 1:28-29 and Luke 1:42-45). This passage is consistent in meaning with Luke 8:19-21.

"In the course of her Son's preaching she [Mary] received the words whereby, in extolling a Kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mark 3:35; Luke 11:27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Luke 2:19, 51)" (Lumen gentium, 58)


You are invited to imagine what it might have been like if you were transported back to the time when Jesus walked the earth as a man. See the woman who has watched the Lord cast out demons and cure the sick. Perhaps one of those cured was her own child, made whole by this holy man. We can see in this picture the gratitude and awe of the woman who, in a surge of love for the Lord, blurts out; “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.”

The Lord must have looked at her with tenderness and compassion. It is his way, so intense is his love for all people. He must have see in her the faith that makes his work on earth possible and in a selfless act, supporting her faith he tells her, gently and consolingly, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

We know that Mary his mother was probably nearby. She was likely in the vanguard of his disciples. Would these words have offended her? No, the Mother of our Lord would understand what her Son was saying to this woman. She would know that God’s Son would give the woman exactly the words she needed to hear to bring forth the Kingdom of God within her. How many times had she heard him say, after he had cured a sick child or had brought a person back from the shadow of death; “Your faith has cured you.”

No, Mary would have heard the woman’s blessing of her role in his mission of salvation and have been pleased, but her own humility would have been echoed in the words her Son gave the grateful woman. And does she not speak for all of us? His mission has not ended. He is still here with us, His Holy Spirit works miracles each day and each day we marvel at God’s creation.

Let our prayer today be a blessing on the womb that bore him and on the breasts that nursed him. Mary our Mother would certainly point to her Son and tell us “Blessed are you who hear the words of my Son and follow him.” This greeting will meet us if we are fortunate to come before the Queen of Heaven.


[1] The picture used today is Assumption of the Virgin, by Juan Martin Cabezalero, 1665-70
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[4] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 431

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