Friday, August 15, 2014

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Revelation 11:19a.12:1-6a.10ab; I Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56)

Fr. Raymond E. Brown, perhaps the best biblical scholar of his time, was very concerned about ecumenical relations.  He often reassured Protestants worrying that the Catholic Church was making excessive claims about Mary.  He proposed that the Church, at least in the cases of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, declared about Mary what Scripture proposes for all true followers of Christ albeit in a privileged way.  For example, the Church’s doctrine that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven is essentially what all the faithful will experience at the end of time.  The reading from First Corinthians gives testimony to this.  Christ was raised as the first fruits of God’s redemption.  The “proper order” that St. Paul mentions would have Mary, the mother of Christ, being glorified after him but before other women and men.

Our bodies’ destiny for eternal glory gives added reason for us to treat them well.  St. Paul in the same letter to the Corinthians presents the primary reason.  They are temples of the Holy Spirit that must not be profaned by lewd conduct.  Capitulating to sexual desire is what he has in mind here. We might supplement his concern for proper regard for the body with avoidance of excessive food and drink.  A few years ago a report was made telling of how people use their overweight friends as permission for them to pile on the pounds.  Of course, the resolution of this problem is not to cut ties with fat people but to model for others healthy eating habits. 

One more thing, if we want to develop virtue by emulating our friends, we might make friends with the saints, especially Mary.  In today’s gospel she visits her relative Elizabeth not only as a swift and certain response to the word of God but also as a show of support for of a woman with an unexpected pregnancy.  She also praises God for all the good that has happened to her.  Finally, she announces the good news of salvation.  Could anyone imagine a better person to have as a friend?