Grace to you!
Any feast of Mother Mary fills my heart with joy. The holy tenderness of the Mother of God spurs in my heart a prayerful contemplation of the function of grace in the life of any person who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. I mean Jesus the Christ, not some sort of platonic ideal in the memory of astral catalogue, but the one who was born in flesh and blood, carried in the womb of Mary. As Scripture says, “born of a woman (Mary)” (Gal 4:4).
The doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was formally declared as a dogma of faith on 1 November 1950 by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical letter Munificentissimus Deus, is to me, one of the best theological understandings of the ultimate blessing of freedom from sin.
As I prayed and reflected on this feast, my mind went to God’s Word as documented in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1 verses 26 to 31. I was particularly attracted by verse 28 where the angel greeted Mary saying, “Hail, full of grace.”
This translation of the Greek κεχαριτωμένη follows Saint Jerome’s Latin translation of it as gratia plena (full of grace). In fact, the Church fathers were in agreement with this translation even before Jerome tranlated the bible into Latin (the vulgate) in the late 4th century.
Granted some biblical scholars, prefer to translate it as ‘favoured one’ and numerous other variations, the consensus of the Fathers of the Church is sufficient to me.
The word charis (χάρις), which is the bone of contention, could be translated as grace or favor. At least, this much is agreed upon by many, irrespective of their side of the argument.
One who is favored by the Lord, the one who is full of grace, deserves what grace offers. We Christians (Catholics, Evangelicals, Protestants, etc.) know the best favor any human being could receive is God. It’s salvation. And salvation is by the grace of God granted us in Christ. One who is full of grace is granted access to salvation too. Don’t forget that Mary had the unique privilege of carrying Jesus, truly God and truly human in her womb. She was the carrier of Grace.
In the Dogma of the Assumption, I see a logical conclusion of the result of fullness of grace. If sanctifying grace (the grace of justification) is all we need to be saved, what happens if someone lives a life that has the best possible divine approval attested to through the lips of the Angel Gabriel, “Full of grace”?
No one is full of grace who has sin or has sinned. We see how the dogma of the Assumption is closely connected with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was formally defined by Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution "Ineffabilis Deus" (8 December 1854).
Assumption, unlike Resurrection—where the Lord by his own power went back to the Father—is the singular example of a creature who, by the grace God was assumed on the wings of Divine Grace to the bosom of the Blessed Trinity where she belongs.
This is how Pope Pius XII defines the doctrine: “"Mary, Immaculate Mother of God ever Virgin, after finishing the course of her life on earth, was taken up in body and soul to heavenly glory.”
I pray that some day we will meet Mother Mary and see her Son Jesus in the Trinity of Love. Amen.
Mary Assumed into heaven, pray for us.
[August 15, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Rv 11:19A; 12;1-6A, 10AB; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.