Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

The Assumption of Virgin Mary

The Assumption of Mary into heaven

 

Readings: Rev 11:19a,12:1-6a, 10ab; I Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56.

1/ First Reading: NAB Revelation 11:19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. 12:1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. 4 Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. 6 The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.

2/ Second Reading: NAB 1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, 23 but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; 24 then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death, 27 for "he subjected everything under his feet." But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him.

3/ Gospel: NAB Luke 1:39 During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." 46 And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 48 For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. 51 He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 53 The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, 55 according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." 56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.



I. THEME: Humbly doing God’s will and serving others. 

            God always loves, blesses and desires all good things for people; in opposition, the devil is always jealous, destroys and desires people to be their slaves. In order to achieve this, the devil tries to find all possible ways to extol the freedom and the pride from human beings. In the Eve garden, he tempted the first couple, Adam and Eve, to use their freedom to disobey God’s command. The results of their disobedience are: they must be far away from God and die. To redeem their sins, Christ and the Blessed Mary as new Adam and Eve chose the opposite way which is complete humility and obedience to God’s will.

            Today readings concentrate on what Christ and the Blessed Mary obeyed and did God’s will to bring back the eternal life which Adam and Eve lost. In the first reading, the Book of Revelation reported the fighting between the woman and the red dragon. This dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. In the second reading, St. Paul compared and revealed God’s plan of salvation as follows: “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.” In the Gospel, when Mary was praised as the most blessed woman by Elisabeth, her cousin, Mary humbly professed that all what she have, are from God. She is only God’s lowly maidservant whom the Most High permitted her to cooperate in His plan of salvation.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “The accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”

1.1/ The fight between God and the devil: The author of the Book of Revelation reported the vision which he saw in the sky. Two main characters whom he saw are the pregnant woman and the red dragon which stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.

            Most of commentators think the red dragon is Satan because of the author’s description, “It has seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems.Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth.” But who is the woman whom the author described here? There are two different opinions:

            (1) The woman is Mary and the son is Christ: This was very popular in the Middle Age which is based on the following facts: First, the author mentioned about God’s presence in the Ark of the Old Testament and compared it with the new ark which is Mary’s womb when she conceived Christ, the Son of God. Secondly, he described Mary’s marvelous glory as follows: “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Besides Mary, there is no other woman who has such kind of glory. Lastly, the author also mentioned the son’s mission and power, he is “destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

            (2) The woman is the Church and the son is each faithful: This opinion was from the early Church which believed that the woman is the Church and the son is each faithful. The red dragon represented the Roman emperor who always found opportunities to persecute the faithful. Those who followed this opinion presented the theological reasons as follows: The Blessed Mary can’t be “wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth” (12:2). Secondly, the Blessed Mary didn’t hide in the desert 1,260 days as verse 12:6 described. Lastly, how can one explain verse 12:17 when the dragon “was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus”? Moreover, the image of the woman was very popular in ancient literature of the Oriental and the Scripture (Isa 50:1, Jer 50:12), and used to indicate a people, a nation or a city.

            The first opinion is agreed by more people; however, this opinion doesn’t completely oppose to the second one, but includes it because Mary is the figure of the Church, the faithful are Jesus’ disciples and also Mary’s children. The dragon not only wants to swallow Christ but also all those who believe in him. The author might have two images when he described the vision: individually as Mary and Christ, communally as the Church and the faithful.

1.2/ God’s power overcomes the devil’s power: The author described the first stage, “The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days.” The deserts were the popular hidden places for the faithful during persecution. The image of the Israelites in the desert seems to be emphasized here. A number is frequently used in Scripture - 1,260 days or 42 months or three years and a half – to indicate a long time, but not for ever.

            Then, the author heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.” These are the words which foretell the result of the fighting, God and Christ shall triumph over the devil’s power. Satan and his companions shall be punished and destroyed.

2/ Reading II: “Just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.”

2.1/ Christ saved humankind from the sting of death: St. Paul compared two important and historical facts, Adam’s fall in the Eve garden and Christ’s glorious resurrection from the tomb, to emphasize the results for people. Since Adam disobeyed God and committed a sin, the sting of sin spread to all, and the result of sin is death. This result was reversed by Christ because he obeyed God to redeem human sins and resurrected from death, human beings are no longer to be died for ever.

2.2/ Christ shall hand over his kingdom to the Father: St. Paul said, “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.” When one reads this sentence, he might think that Christ isn’t equal to God; but that is not true.

            We can use an image to meditate the point which St. Paul wanted to express here. As a leader-in-chief receives a mission from his king to conquer the enemy, Christ also received his mission from the Father to fulfill. When he completed his last mission which is to destroy death, he hands over people who are saved to God as the leader-in-chief hands over the lost territories for his king.

 

3/ Gospel: “For He has looked upon His handmaid's lowliness.”

3.1/ Doing God’s will is the reason for God’s blessing.

            (1) Elisabeth recognized Mary’s blessings: When Mary entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” The child in Elisabeth’s womb is John Baptist. The two children recognized each other by the Holy Spirit’s power; and Elisabeth also recognized Mary, her cousin, as the Mother of God.

            (2) The reason for Mary’ title and God’s blessing: Elisabeth recognized the reason Mary was blessed when she said, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” People are blessed because of their strong faith in God, not by any work that they did. Mary completely believed in God’s plan of salvation when she said “Yes” to the archangel Gabriel.

3.2/ Mary humbly served God and others: According to God’s providence, the greatest one is the one who humbly served others.

            (1) Mary humbly served God: Mary knew that the origin of her greatness is from God; she is only His lowly maidservant. Therefore, she responded to Elisabeth’s praise as follows: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my savior.For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

            In opposition to Mary’s response is the prideful response of those who take what God and others did to them as their own. They think that they have talents and virtues, or luck, or by their own effort that they become what they are. The song Magnificat must be a remind to this kind of people. They should be awaken, recognize and properly behave before it is too late. The author continued: “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

            (2) Mary humbly served others: The love for God must be expressed by doing good deeds for others. Mary chose to visit her cousin Elisabeth and to stay to serve her for three months because she knew that her cousin was advanced in age and needed someone to help her, though Mary could choose to stay home because she was pregnant too. The prideful can think that her cousin must visit and serve Mary, because Mary is the Mother of God.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - God is wise and powerful. He plans and controls the whole plan of salvation through Christ’s humble obedience to do His will.

            - Mary was wise to recognize God’s plan of salvation, and humbly co-operate to provide for Christ a body which is necessary for human salvation.

            - Imitating Christ and Mary, we pray that we can also recognize God’s will and humbly co-operate with God for our salvation and the salvation of others. We shouldn’t fall into the devil’s prideful temptation to steal God’s blessing and to get lost on the way to salvation.

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