This Sunday, the feast of the Assumption, replaces the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time.
The language of the first reading , like that of the second from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, is mythic, vivid, apocalyptic.
The sanctuary of God in heaven opened and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake, and violent hail.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother. The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready, for her to be looked after in the twelve hundred and sixty days.
Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, ‘Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the persecutor, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.’
The reading seems to speak of an event in the past, and indeed it does, for it describes – through the obliquity of its myth – the triumph of Christ achieved in the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Paschal Mystery. It engages with the story of the community that finds life in Christ, and in this passage especially with both Mary the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church.
The Scriptures look back but they do so ot help us look forward with greater confidence and, most of all, to live our lives now faithfully and well.
- How does Christ’s victory win life for you today?
- How is your life Christ’s victory?
Photograph of Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. © 2013, Allen Morris.