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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Revisit: Where is the Assumption of Mary in the Bible?

 “Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”
Question:  Where is the Assumption of Mary in the Bible?

This is a re-posting of a previous blog, with some addition/deletions.

Firstly, the question "Where is it in the Bible?" assumes one thing:  all we believe about God must be found in the Bible.  That is, we must look to the Bible as our foundation for Truth.

The irony in this assumption (haha!  no pun intended!) is, however, that Scripture never says that all we believe about God must be found in the Bible. 

In fact, Scripture says that the sure norm for our understanding of what God has revealed is...the Church, not the Bible!  (
"the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth" 1 Tim 3:15)
This self-refuting belief (the Bible-alone is our sole foundation of faith) is found in many Christian circles.  In other words, it's a non-biblical tradition they've created:  "show me where this is in the Bible" is not ever stated in Scripture.

As Catholics we believe that all that God has revealed can be found in Sacred Scripture AND Sacred Tradition (the oral teaching of the Apostles, handed down through the bishops and teaching authority of the Church.)

It has been the constant teaching of the Apostles that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul. (This is different than Jesus' Ascension, in which he ascended into heaven on his own power.  Mary was assumed only by God's grace and command, not of her own authority).

That this dogma was defined later (1950) does not mean it was "created" by a pope.  It simply means that the Church in her wisdom saw fit to formally declare something, which was believed from the earliest days of Christianity, as a dogmatically revealed truth of God.

As far as there being no evidence in Scripture for Mary's Assumption, this is not exactly true.  Firstly, there are indeed holy individuals who were assumed into heaven in the Old Testament:  Enoch and Elijah. 
"Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him away"--Gen. 5:24.   And Elijah: "As they walked on still conversing, a fiery chariot and fiery horses came between the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind"--2 Kings 2:11

In addition, there is evidence that the early Christians, from the very first centuries, believed and proclaimed in the Assumption.  Veneration of relics of the Apostles and of the first Christian martyrs emerged quite quickly.  Shrines were built on the tombs of these early Christians and their bones were distributed to the early Christian communities.  (Note:  veneration of these relics is not to be confused with worship, which is due properly and rightfully only to God).

However, there is not a single piece of evidence that relics of the Blessed Mother were ever in existence.

This speaks to the fact that the early Christians knew that Mary's body was not on earth.  It seems that the early Church had already been proclaiming that Mary had been given a special privilege as a redeemed Christian, through the atoning death of her Son, and been assumed into heaven.  

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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