- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

The following are excerpts of a homily given yesterday by the Rev. Daniel L. Mode at Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church.

“For He has remembered His promise of mercy.” In our Gospel of Luke, Mary lovingly reminds us that her Son has promised us His mercy. That ultimate mercy is at the hour of our death and the promise and hope of resurrection.

Today, we celebrate with great joy the assumption of Mary — that she received Christ’s mercy as well. For we believe that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven.

Time and time again throughout the Gospels, our Lord tells us of this promise of His mercy: “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Again, we hear in our Gospel of Luke, Mary is called by Elizabeth, “Blessed are you among women.”

As one of the blessed, Mary would indeed have this promise of mercy and eternal life given to her.

When our Lord was hanging on a cross, He told the good thief: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

As He promises this inheritance to the thief, how much more does He offer eternity to His own mother — the woman who bore Him, brought Him to the temple, and raised and cared for Him, followed Him in his public ministry and finally witnessed His death and resurrection. Christ would truly honor His mother as our Commandments ask. He would bring Mary to himself this day — the day of her assumption.

In John’s Gospel, our Lord says, “Everyone who believes in the Son may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Mary is the first Christian and our Lord’s first faithful disciple. Mary always said, “yes” to her Son.

Also in John’s Gospel, Christ promises, “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. I will go and prepare a place for you. I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going, you may know the way.”

Mary followed Christ completely — in life and in eternity. Our Lord has prepared a place for us and for His mother.

As we remember the great solemnity of the Assumption — in which Mary is with her Son in heaven, this is for us a beautiful reminder of the promise and hope our Lord has for each and every one of us. We, too, are called for eternity — we are called to be saints.

This promise of resurrection given to us by our Lord and shown to us by His assumption of Mary is even more dramatically assured to us as we reflect upon one of the ancient titles given to Mary by the early Church fathers and seen in our first reading from the book of Revelation: Mary as the ark of the covenant.

Moses and the Israelites built the ark of the covenant to contain three reminders of God’s power: the very word of God — the Ten Commandments, the priestly staff of Aaron and manna given to the Israelites to feed on in the desert.

The prophet Jeremiah hid the ark before the final fall of Jerusalem, and it was to be restored only when the Messiah came. Mary becomes that restoration of the ark as she carried the Christ in her womb. As we see in our Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth announces that the mother of my Lord has come to me, and Elizabeth’s son, John in her womb, leaped for joy, much like David leaped and danced before the ark of the Old Testament.

The Greek word that is used for joy is “anaphoneo” — used only once in the New Testament in our Gospel today, but used in five places in the Old Testament — always before the ark.

The old ark contained the word of God in the form of the Commandments.

The new ark, Mary, contains the word becoming flesh — Christ our Savior. The old ark contained the priestly staff of Aaron.

The new ark, Mary, contains the high priest — our Lord.

The old ark contained manna from the desert.

The new ark, Mary contains the bread of life — Jesus.

Mary as the new ark means that the Messiah has come and death is conquered. The promise has been completely fulfilled.

Today is indeed a day of great rejoicing, for we know from the words of our Lord and the example of Mary that the promise is ours. May we always seek this joy and reality of eternal life in our lives as we seek to be true followers of Christ like His mother, Mary. Christ peace.

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