RV 11: 19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we do well to reflect on the incredibly rich imagery placed before us in all the readings.
In the Book of Revelation, John tells us that God’s temple in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was seen. This image might put us in mind of the ark built by the ancient Israelites, according to God’s instructions to Moses. Interestingly, however, the next line speaks of a woman, clothed with the sun, the moon at her feet, a crown of twelve stars on her head, about to give birth to a son, involved in battle with evil.
In the Gospel, Luke draws many parallels between Mary and the ark from ancient Hebrew tradition. He tells us that Mary hastened to the hill country of Judah to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who was with child. Ancient Jews hearing this, would have thought of David, hurrying to Judah to retrieve the ancient ark.
The ark of the old covenant, containing the ten commandments (the word of God), manna (bread from heaven), and the rod of Aaron (that budded as proof of the exclusive right of priesthood for the tribe of Levi), had long disappeared from Jerusalem. And now we see Mary, carrying the Word of God, Jesus, the bread of life come down from heaven, the eternal high priest, in her womb, to Judah.
David was so filled with joy as he returned the ark from Judah to Jerusalem, that he danced. Upon Mary’s arrival in Judah, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, leapt for joy. Luke offers other details in the scene of the visitation that mirror those of the journey of the original ark, and they are fascinating.
In the Catechism we read: “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is ‘the dwelling of God . . . with men’” (CCC 2676).
Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul. She is Queen of Heaven and Earth. Just as the original ark was carried into battle, so too, Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant and Mother of the Church, is actively involved, body and soul, in the spiritual battle facing the Church throughout the ages.
In ancient Israel, the mother of the King was the most revered and influential person; the Queen stands at the right hand of the King, her requests carry weight. Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s recognition that she is the Mother of the Lord, is the canticle that is prayed daily in the Liturgy of the Hours, known as the Magnificat. It shows us Mary’s humility, compassion, trust and strength. Mary is a mighty champion of the downtrodden and will be a champion for all who call upon the name of her Son.
Some reflections for today could be: Are we willing to carry Christ with us wherever we go? Will others recognize Christ in us? Do we have faith in the power of Mary’s intercession?