UNTIL HE HAS PUT ALL HIS ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET!
Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2010
The world of science is familiar with the idea of putting to rout all that militates against life. Ironically, health or wholeness, had to do, among many other things, with being free from other forms of life that are really, at bottom, anti-life. Science is all too familiar with the world of microbes, bacteria, and viruses. Whilst they, too, are forms of life (though lower forms), they can wreak havoc to life as we know it, life as God would have us live it, fullness of life, a life of wholeness, a life of health, a life that leads us ultimately, to eternal life.
We all know what it means to be downed by a microbe, or at least, bacteria. Some bacteria can cause not just discomfort, but real misery, as when bacteria that gets into the alimentary canal, ingested together with food, can cause us untold misery via gastro-intestinal problems.
The whole world of medical science revolves around the need to keep such harmful lower forms of life at bay … if they are to be prevented from spreading and causing further destruction, and – even – death to millions of people. The HIV virus is one such “enemy” that the world of medical science spends so much time and money for – at the service of “fullness of life” for all!
We cannot talk of today’s feast without resorting to all this talk about a virus that is just as hard to eradicate. We all know what this virus is. We all have fallen prey to that virus. “All men have fallen short of the glory of God!” All the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve became part of what St. Augustine called “massa damnata,” mankind who, on account of the first fall, were born with the stain of “original sin.”
But God, who created humans free, is a God who sets all men and women free! He is a God of freedom, a God who enabled man to attain the fullness of that freedom, but a God who, on account of the very same freedom, was, in a sense, “powerless” before the mystery of human choice, and the concomitant mystery of human iniquity. But God is more powerful than sin, more powerful even that death. His love has no bounds, and even the gates of hell won’t prevail.
We all know the fruits of that original iniquity. St. Paul reminds us in no uncertain terms: “death came through man.” “The wages of sin is death.” The justice of God decreed so.
But God, who calls us to fullness of life, is also one who “puts to rout all that is not life.” He is, like any good doctor, one who won’t stop at anything “until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Yes … death came through one man, but “the resurrection of the dead came also through man.” Whilst God is supremely just, God is eternally loving, infinitely forgiving, and the forces of that original virus has been put to rout by one man, Jesus Christ, in contraposition to Adam.
But we need to tell the whole story. The whole story includes one among the “massa damnata” saved in advance by the suffering, death, and resurrection of him whom this someone – a woman – brought into the world. This woman, blessed among all women, reversed the unfortunate Eva, and, through the words of an angel, became a resounding AVE!
This woman, by the name of Mary, honored by generations past and for many other generations to come, is God’s antidote to the virus of sin, for God loves to work through secondary causes. By choosing her to be the mother of His only Son, God has decreed that she be the human answer to a human problem of disobedience and sin. Sin entered through man. Salvation entered through the Son of Man, born of Mary, born of woman, blessed among all women.
The world of science is all too familiar too with the concept of antidotes. Ironic as it may sound, the cure to a venomous snake bite is the very same venom, processed, carefully graduated and measured and administered. The cure to man’s sinfulness, in God’s scheme of things, was for His Son to embrace that very same humanity, that very same nature imbroigled in sin, and for Christ, His Son, to become all things to all men, to be like unto them in all things but sin!
And the way of all flesh is to go by way of flesh – to be born of a woman – Mary. And this is where the core meaning of this feast comes in … This woman, born of sinful humanity, but saved in advance by Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, was made to share, too, of the glories of Christ’s resurrection.
She, whom God decreed should rid the world of the effects of the virus of sin, was herself preserved, by God’s singular grace, from the effects of that same virus. Mary slept the sleep of death, but was taken up body and soul into heaven. She was assumed. ASSUMPTA EST MARIA IN COELO!
Is there anything unreasonable in that? Is there anything unreasonable for God to treat her as she deserved? – as the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of His Son?
But the story does not end here. God still is busy ridding the world of the virus of sin. God, in and through Christ, is still engaged in putting to rout all that is not life, and leading us to fullness of life. God won’t stop, in and through Christ, “until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”
And I got good news for you … She who brought the Savior to the world, still is busy cooperating with the Grace (in person) that He brought. As mother of Grace, she works to help us become the best we are called to be. For like Mother, like Son … Both are in partnership … both hearts work in tandem, in syntony, and in harmony, to put to rout all that is not life. And together with her Son, she works “until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” TOTA PULCHRA ES, MARIA, ET MACULA NON EST IN TE! You are beautiful O Mary, and no stain has defiled you. ORA PRO NOBIS PECCATORIBUS! PRAY FOR US SINNERS.