OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Year A)

This great feast is a twin to the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Then, if you recall, the preface of the Mass contained these words: “Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church; where he has gone, we hope to follow.” Today we celebrate the first of us to do just that, as we remember Mary following Our Lord into heaven. She is the First to follow him ‑ but not the last: this feast should open our eyes to our final destination ‑ heaven. This feast pushes us right back into the Easter Season, to thoughts of death and resur­rection: it is the second reading which under­lines all this. It talks of the `gradual' resurrec­tion of the dead: Christ first, then “those who belong to him”. Of these, the first is Mary, she who was without stain of original sin, she who was “most blessed of all women”. In her, today, we see the fulfilment of the vision of the First reading: the end of death, and the victory of life in Christ.

Notes for Readers

From the Catechism

First Reading: Apocalypse 11:19; 12:1-6.10
 
In the book of the Apocalypse, this vision of Saint John shows the woman (who represents the whole of the people of Israel) giving birth to the Messiah. This woman, of course, is Mary, the daughter of Israel and mother of God; she is also the mother and model of the Church, God's holy people. In reading this vision, don't be daunted by it: read it as a story to be told. It begins with a certain formality, as we see in the words “Now a great sign appeared in heaven...” As you continue, the drama of the vision will come over quite easily. Save something for the last three lines, which are a triumphant conclusion offering an interpretation of the whole vi­sion: it is about the victory over death that Christ has won, the empire that is his by rising from death. This is our reason for celebrating today ‑ that not just Christ, but all those who belong to him may share in this victory.
 
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20‑26
 
Take time and care over this reading: it explains the feast we celebrate today very clearly. There is a clear logical devel­opment throughout the reading. We begin with the Resurrection ‑ a very clear statement: it is then important to underline the words “the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep”. The next point reiterates that as death comes to all because of Adam, so resurrection can come to all be­cause of Christ. Today's feast finds an echo in the words “but all of them in their proper order” ‑ Mary is, fittingly, the first. The conclusion of the reading, which looks forward to the end of time, under­lines our hope that we too will be among those “who belong to him” ‑ our hope that when Christ puts the last of the great ene­mies under his feet (death), so we too will be able to share in the eternal life that he has won, as we too rise from the dead and join Christ and Mary, his mother, body and soul in the joys of heaven.
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