Holy, Carry, Glory
A reflection on the Liturgical Readings of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
As God accompanied Israel in its growth in faith, the people realized one thing about God. God is the Totally Other. He is beyond all that is. He is different from all created realities. God is holy. He is kadosh – someone who is not marked by the imperfections of our world. The chronicles in our first reading shows how the people honors this difference. There is a solemn procession of the Ark of the Covenant as it ascends towards David’s temple.
The Ark is the container of the holy relics, things that were instrumental in the chosen people’s journey through the desert. It is a box carried by priests as the people processed from Egypt to the promised land. Israel believed it is the physical manifestation of God’s presence and great power. Inside it, the Letter to the Hebrews believed, is found the two tablets of the covenant, the staff of Aaron, and the golden urn containing manna from the desert (Hebrews 9:4).
The Church believes that if God chose to bind his omnipresence in that holy box in the Old Testament, God chose to become present in a more intimate way to his people by becoming man in the womb of Mary. The incarnation of the Lord, when God chose to become like us is God’s way of perfecting his coming close to His people through the Ark. And just as the Ark contained the presence of God, so did the Virgin Mary carry in her womb the God of the universe.
Mary is the new ark of the covenant, not because of her own merit, not because she is perfect but because in her humility she was chosen by God to carry His Son in her womb. In her is not a relic, but the living presence of God in flesh, Jesus who is Life himself.
It is the faith of the Church that Jesus having defeated death and sin returned to the glory of his Father. St. Paul records this victory song in his first letter to the Corinthians, “death, where is your sting?” And as sacred Tradition holds, that just as the God in his ark of the covenant ascends to David’s temple, Jesus too did not allow Mary to be corrupted and brought her with Him at the end of her earthly life, to heaven. The psalm rightfully proclaims, “Lord, go up to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your holiness.”
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