1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2
Psalm 132:6-7, 9-10, 13-14
1 Corinthians 15:54b-57
Luke 11:27-28

This evening's Liturgy of the Word for the Solemnity of the Assumption begins with a story about the old Ark of the Covenant, the dwelling place of God's presence. The Liturgy is inviting us to contemplate Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, the earthly dwelling place of the Son of God among men.

The Ark of the old Covenant contained three things: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, manna from the desert, and the rod of Aaron. Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, carried Jesus in her womb for nine months. The Ten Commandments were the word of God written on stone; Jesus is the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. The manna sustained the people of God during their journey in the desert; Jesus is the New Manna, the living Bread that sustains us on our journey to heaven and gives us eternal life. The rod of Aaron returned to life and showed he was the true High Priest (Number 17:1-11); Jesus is the Branch of David, who rises from the dead, and is the eternal High Priest of the New Covenant.

The Gospel proclaims that Mary is blessed not only because she conceived and carried the Son of God in her womb, but also because she heard the word of God and kept it (Luke 11:27-28). As Elizabeth will say: Mary is blessed because of the fruit of her womb and blessed because of her faith (Luke 1:42,45). Mary's faith and obedience to the Word of God is the basis for her anticipated victory over death. In fact, in the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven, we celebrate her victory over death. Death and sin entered the world through Adam; life and grace entered the world through Jesus Christ, the New Adam.

Mary is blessed because she is united to God and lives now with God and in God. "Through her 'fiat' Mary prepared God's dwelling here on earth; with her body and soul, she became his dwelling place and thereby opened the earth to heaven" (Pope Benedict, 15 August 2006). As the Son of God's dwelling place on earth, an eternal dwelling place was prepared for her. Mary is blessed because, body and soul, she became the Lord's dwelling place. In this way, she shows us how to become blessed and find the way to happiness (see Pope Benedict, 15 August 2006).

Mary's Assumption teaches us that God has an eternal dwelling place prepared for those who believe in him and love him. Our eternal life is based on God's love and is God's love: "This love guarantees our immortality, and it is this love that we call 'heaven'" (J. Ratzinger, Dogma and Preaching, Franciscan Herald Press, 116). With Mary's Assumption, we now have a Mother in Heaven who cares for us. While Mary lived on earth, she was able to be close to a few people; now, reigning as Queen in heaven, and because she is with God and in God, Mary is close to each one of us. We can turn to her in prayer as her children; in turn, she hears our prayers and can help us as a mother.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.