Death Is Not The End

Feast Of The Assumption

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: August 15, 2021

Do Catholics worship Mary?  There are some fundamentalist Christians who will accuse us of worshipping Mary.  But, any good Catholic knows that we do not worship Mary.  We do honour and show devotion to Mary.  As the mother of Jesus, she was an instrument of God’s grace, a model to each of us in living as disciples of Jesus and living with a heart fully open to the Holy Spirit.  Already in the early New Testament time of the church, we see that the Christians offered devotion to Mary.

In Luke’s Gospel we just heard the great prayer of Mary that we call the Magnificat.  There is so much in this prayer that we discover about Mary, how she prayed, how she viewed life and humanity.  In the Magnificat Mary says about herself, “… all generations will call me blessed.”  Two thousand years later we continue to call Mary blessed, continue to honour her with special devotion and love.

All of the Dogmas and teachings about Mary teach us something about Jesus and about us as disciples of Jesus.  For this reason it is helpful to reflect and meditate on the Dogmas of the Church about Mary.  They shed light on the identity and mission of Jesus.  They also shed light on the call and life of the disciples of Jesus.

Today on August 15, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption.  This is one of the oldest Feasts of Mary.  It was already a major Feast by the 5th Century.  This Dogma of the Assumption reveals the mission of Jesus who leads us beyond death into eternal life.  Through his death and resurrection Jesus is leading us into eternal glory in the heart of God.  The Assumption shows us the transition from this earthly life to the glory of heaven.  Jesus is the Saviour who leads the way, and Mary, the mother of Jesus already shares in the glory of heaven through her Son.  This teaches us about our destiny, where we are going.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we heard in our second reading today, Paul says, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  Death is something frightening, an enemy to us human beings.  Deep inside us is a hunger for eternity, longing that our loves in this life will not come to an end.  We feel it painfully within when a loved one dies.   Jesus came to destroy death, in his death and resurrection, he has opened up the path to eternal life.  God’s plan is not for our destruction.  In the Catholic funeral prayers we express clearly that “death is not the end.”

As we age we begin to reflect on death and how we prepare for our death.  One of the keys that I have seen in people is the need for forgiveness.  We need to forgive those who have hurt us, we need to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes, we need to forgive life for having been unfair, we even need to forgive God sometimes.  Disciples of Jesus should not die bitter and angry.  Mary did not die bitter and angry.  She died in peace and light.  United in such a deep and intimate way with her Son, she followed into the glory of heaven.

We Catholics do not worship Mary, but we continue to call her blessed and show her devotion and love.  We reflect and meditate on the Dogmas about Mary because they reveal important truths about Jesus and about us as disciples of Jesus.  The Dogma of the Assumption offers a beautiful vision of our destiny.  That death is not the end and that this life leads to the glory of heaven.

Like Mary we need to prepare for our death by being united to Jesus.  One of the keys to this is the need for forgiveness in all areas of our life.  We are like Mary and faithful to the Feast of the Assumption when we prepare for our death so that we are able to die without being bitter or angry.

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The Bearer Of God



Feast of Mary Mother of God

Fr. Paul Patrick, O.M.I.

Posted: December 31, 2020

1.0 Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God while at the same time around the world, we celebrate New Year’s Day. The title “Mother of God” is a translation of the Greek word Theotokos which literally means “the Bearer of God” Thus, today we are reminded of the role which Mary, the Mother of God, played in our salvation.

The reason why we venerate Mary as Mother of God is precisely because by her co-operation with God’s plan for her, she brought salvation to the entire world in the form of Jesus Christ. Mary remains an excellent model for us in our daily struggle to give our ‘yes’ to God and follow His plan for us in our own personal lives.

When we think about the life of a great person who has passed on, oftentimes we use this phrase to describe them: “That person’s life was a blessing to others” Mary, Mother of God’s life was indeed – a blessing to others.

2.0 First Reading and a Blessing

In the First Reading (Numbers 6:22-27) we hear a beautiful blessing which the Lord gives to His people through Moses. This ancient Jewish blessing is generally referred to as the Priestly blessing and consists of 3 parts. “The LORD bless you and keep you. (1) The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. (2) The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (3) (cf. Numbers 6:24)

The first part contains a word in Hebrew “Yeesh’merecha” translated as “keep you” but also has many meanings including “guard” “save” and “protect” The second and third parts contain an idiom in Hebrew “‘The LORD make His face to shine upon you/lift up His countenance upon you” which means that a person will benefit from God’s goodness to them. The blessing ends with a wish for peace.

3.0 Being a Blessing for Others

Blessings should be understood in this two-fold way: God fills us with his graces so that, like Mary, Mother of God, we in turn go out and make a difference – or be a blessing – in the lives of others. Blessings are not mere pious images to comfort us, but they are actual moments where God fills us with His graces, and in return, God expects that we spread that blessing among everyone we meet in our lives, both those we love, and those we dislike (cf Matthew 5:43-44)

Let 2021 be a year in which, having received the blessing of God, we cast aside bitterness, anger, disillusion, hatred, division, and in its place substitute the blessing, peace and love of God.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

Happy New Year and Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!


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