Mini-Studies for Assumption Vigil

First Reading: 1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16, 16:1-2

15:3 David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of Yahweh to its place, which he had prepared for it. 15:4 David gathered together the sons of Aaron, and the Levites.

15:15 The children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of YHWH. 15:16 David spoke to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brothers the singers, with instruments of music, stringed instruments and harps and cymbals, sounding aloud and lifting up the voice with joy.

16:1 They brought in the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. 16:2 When David had made an end of offering the burnt offering and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of YHWH.

World English Bible

1 Chronicles 15 described the procession of the Ark into Jerusalem. David had taken the city and made it his capital. As a means to consolidate his power, he brought the sign of the Mosaic covenant into the city. In this way, the city would become the focus point of politics and religious cult.

As king, David instructed the Levites (the hereditary line of priests) to bear the Ark and to create a liturgy for its arrival in the city (15:16). At the end of the process, David had erected a tent to house the Ark (in the fashion of the traveling sanctuary during the Exodus). The priests offered sacrifice, then David did so. As king, he had the prerogative to lead worship, for he was both the civic and religious leader for the nation (16:2).

As a last note, the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of YHWH among his people. Many faithful saw the procession of the Ark like a pilgrimage God made that began on Mt. Sinai and ended in Jerusalem (and, eventually, its Temple). This divine pilgrimage linked the Mosaic and Davidic covenants; it also marked the history of the people from liberation from bondage to the full establishment as a nation. So, the act of pilgrimage to Jerusalem was meant to mimic the movement of God, the spirit of the two covenants, and the history of the people. People who visited the city on the holy days had a sense they were part of something greater than themselves.

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Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

54 When this corruptible (body) will put on (the) incorruptible, and this morbid (body) will put on immortality, then the word having been written will come (to pass):

Death was consumed in victory.
55 Where is your victory, death?
Where is your sting, death?

56 The sting of death (is) sin, the power of sin (is) the Law. 57 Thanks be to God , the (One) giving us the victory through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

St. Paul wrote the community in Corinth concerning the resurrection. He answered a controversy over the reality and nature of the rising from the dead. Was the resurrection merely metaphorical, like the death of winter gives way to the new growth of spring? Or, did the resurrection of the dead already occur? In this case, the resurrection would have been a spiritual experience all Christians shared. In either case, the resurrection would not have been physical. St. Paul fought that notion directly. Christ rose from the dead physically. His followers will also share in a bodily resurrection on the last day.

These verses reflect St. Paul's insistence on the nature of the resurrection. The body changes from corruptible and morbid, to the incorruptible and eternal. With the change in the body at the resurrection, death loses its power. St. Paul did not see death as a termination of life, but as a cosmic force, even as a malevolent spirit, that could be addressed personally. The resurrection would not end death as a condition, but would conquer it as an enemy. Once vanquished, the spirit of death would lose it's victory over humanity and the sting it caused.

In 15:56, St. Paul identified the sting of death; it was sin, the corruption of morality. He also identified where death derived its power; this was the Law, the instrument that defined sin. Notice how St. Paul paralleled physical corruption that comes from death with the cultural and personal decay that comes from immorality. In fact, he saw a cause and effect; sin caused death. Since the Law defined morality, it defined sin, and, so, heightened the awareness of moral decline and its slide into death. What could stop, even reverse the slide? What could take away sin, and, so death? Resurrection, specifically, the resurrection of Jesus. In St. Paul's mind, if one man rose from the dead, all could (and would). Hence, death would be defeated. As a corollary, the victory would flow backward; sin would lose its force, since the resurrection of Christ meant sin would be forgiven.

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Gospel: Luke 11:27-28

27 It happened as HE said these (things), a certain woman from the crowd, having raised (her) voice, said to HIM, "Blessed is the womb, the (one) having borne you, and the breasts which nursed (YOU). 28 HE said, "Rather, blessed are the (ones) hearing the word of God and keeping (it)."

In this short exchange, a woman called out to honor the mother of Jesus, through Jesus. The woman in the crowd saw Jesus as an honorable man, indeed, God's man. To bear and suckle such a man would have been an honor for a Jewish woman, for the honor of poor Jewish women depended upon the honor of the patriarch or popular male in the household. In other words, the honor of the man reflected on the mother, wife, or daughter in the clan.

Jesus did not dispute the sentiments of the woman's comment, but he pointed to a greater honor: serving God. Such service entailed listening to the Good News and taking it to heart. Since Jesus came to proclaim the Gospel, honor required hearing his words and obeying their implications. So the woman who bore Jesus (i.e., Mary) was honorable, the greater honor was that of discipleship. In his gospel, Luke portrayed Mary with both honors. She was the mother of an honorable man, and she was a follower of her Son.