Scripture: Lectionary for Feast of the Assumption, Aug.15th, 2013; Revelation 11:19. 12:1-6,10. Psalm 45: 10.11.12.16. I Corinthians 15:20-26. Luke 1:39-56:
There are three parts to this reflection on the Assumption. First, I will share a prayer I composed in reflecting upon the Book of Revelation 11:19 and 12:1-6. Then I will give my daily Scriptural interpretative meditation, and finally an excellent marian passage from the greatest American exegete, Raymond. E.Brown, SS (Sulpician priest).
Prayer for the Assumption based on our first Scriptural Reading
Mary, we are very familiar with your image of Guadalupe in Mexico, where you are surrounded , vested, and clothed with the rays of the sun, the moon beneath your feet, and a crown of stars above your head. We believe this is the light and warmth of our Creator, God our Father and Mother, who so adorns and encompasses you with protective love.
As we contemplate the image of the woman in the Book of Revelation, we see similarities to so many of the images that reflect the culture, arts, and devotion to you which spring from this prototype of you who are in the mind of the visionary John of Patmos who shares his vision with the seven Churches of the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation.
You are the Mother of the Messiah (Psalm 110 and 2) and you give birth just as the woman of the vision gives birth to a son who will rule the nations with a rod of iron. In your own personal history you, too , were surrounded by the twelve apostles, just as the twelve stars surround the head of the woman of the Apocalypse.
You are the spiritual mother of the Church, just as the Woman is the daughter of Zion, the new Israel of the prophets, and the Mother of Jesus, the Messiah. Although our minds often make distinctions, through our faith and love of you, we see you, too, as the same Woman of Revelation—the new Eve, mother of all the living, the woman who vanquishes the dragon (serpent) after escaping into the desert on the wings of an eagle (which is the sign of the Torah and the Prophets and not the Roman Empire). We have always kept you in our hearts as the Promised Woman for all generations to come who will call you blessed.
Yes, O Mother Mary, you are blessed among all women, for you are the Woman, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. He is the Messiah, child brought forth by you and the Woman of the Apocalypse. Amen.
The Apocalypse is now being called the Book of Revelation (never say Revelations for it is singular in the text). We see the vision starts with Rev. 11:19 manifesting the Ark of the Covenant in heaven. On earth is was the dwelling place and sign of God’s presence for Israel in the Exodus and in the Temple in Jerusalem. Immediately, after this glimpse into heaven, the visionary, John of Patmos, describes a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of stars above her head. We are told her son soon to be born will rule the nations (Psalm 110, a messianic psalm) and he is an image of the Messiah. The woman is threatened by a huge dragon (or serpent or the Devil as John makes known) but she is saved by the faithful followers of God and her son is taken up into the heavens. Is this woman the mother of Jesus or is she an image of the Church or of Israel who gave birth to the Messiah? In the history of the tradition of the commentaries on this text all three are mentioned as the Woman. In the history of salvation we believe as Christians that Mary is the Mother of the Messiah. In Catholic Tradition and in Vatican II she is called Mother of the Church. As daughter of Zion she is an image of Israel. Both the corporate meaning and the personal meaning of this woman have been handed down in the history of the Church and its tradition and interpretations of the passage. We accept the primary interpretation of the Woman as being an image of the Church, but we also know many saints and many writings on the Scriptures see her as the mother of Jesus or Mother of the Messiah. The tradition goes as far back as the fourth century. Then St. Bonaventure tells us in his commentary on this passage the woman is Mary. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Marianists applies the image directly to Mary and sees her crushing the head of the serpent who is the Evil One, the devil, the father of lies, and the dragon of the Apocalypse. St. John Damascene sings the praises of Mary assumed into heaven and there are hundreds of manuscripts with stories of her being taken up by her son Jesus into heaven.
In the text the son of the woman is said to be the Anointed One; he is totally seen as sharing human nature as a child who is given birth by the woman. The only woman who has been associated as a real person with this text in the history of the Christian tradition is Mary, the Mother of the Messiah. Amen.
Father Raymond Brown says this about Mary in Genesis 3 and Revelation 12:
Jesus’ mother is the New Eve who in imitation of her prototype (Eve), the ‘woman’ of Genesis 2-4, can say, “With the help of the Lord I have begotten a man (cf. Gen.4:1, Feuillet, “Les Adieu”, 474-477). Perhaps, we may also relate Mary the New Eve to Genesis 3:15, a passage that describes a struggle between the offspring of Eve and the offspring of the serpent, for “the hour” of Jesus is the hour of the fall of the prince of this world (John 12:23,31). The symbolism of the Fourth Gospel has a certain resemblance to that of Revelation 12:5,17, where a woman gives birth to the Messiah in the presence of the Satanic dragon or ancient serpent of Genesis and yet also has other offspring who are the targets of Satan’s wrath after the Messiah has been taken to heaven. It is interesting that the offspring of the woman of Revelation are described as “those who keep the commandments of God”; for in John 14:21-23 we are told that those who keep the commandments are loved by Father and Son, so that a beloved disciple is one who keeps the commandments. (Brown, 1981, 926).
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.