On the Biblical Basis for The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

On the Biblical Basis for The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Joseph and Mary were enjoying a leisurely breakfast when Mary piped up, “You know what, Joe? When I die, I’m heading straight to heaven—not only my soul, but my body as well.”
Joe’s cup of ... coffee (!) paused halfway to its next sip, “Well now, Mary, that’s quite an assumption.”

On August 15 each year, the Church commemorates the Assumption [i.e, the taking up] of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven, immediately upon or very shortly after her death. So this past August 15, my colleague here at Emmaus, Josh Burks, wrote an article that explores a number of biblical texts which establish the theological framework from which this doctrine comes, and we posted it here.

Mary’s assumption into heaven is not the only one of which we have historical record. Enoch and Elijah are the other two whose accounts imply they were taken up bodily into heaven. But Mary’s is the most contested among Christians outside of the Catholic tradition, because 1) it has been declared a dogma to be believed by all the faithful, and 2) it is not itself as explicitly stated in the Bible as are the accounts of Enoch and Elijah.

In regard to 1), many Christians find objectionable the notion that there exists some human magisterial authority that claims a) to be divinely guided in its declarations about the faith Christ delivered to the apostles, and b) divinely authorized to bind the faithful to agreement in regard to those declarations. But guidance and authorization are precisely what lie behind 2), where the matter of interpretation comes to the fore. What is it that the Holy Spirit wishes the faithful to draw out from less explicit texts, as this is discerned by the authorized successors of the apostles (i.e., the Pope and the bishops in communion with him)?

Josh has done a fine job of laying out the treasures of the Church’s interpretation with regard to the Assumption of the one all nations will call ‘Blessed’, and explaining the sense of the texts, so that we will be able to understand. Please read his article thoughtfully, and then feel free to interact in the comment section underneath it. May God bless us as we strain to hear His voice speaking to us in the Scriptures.