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Feast of the Assumption of Mary, Years A, B & C
August 15, annually
Lectionary index # 622

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

The presider may speak these before the first and second readings, and before rising for the gospel acclamation. Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

Feast of the Assumption, August 15, annually
Before the first reading:

The book of Revelation was written to encourage persecuted Christians to keep the faith. Its language is highly symbolic, partly to disguise its meanings from the persecutors. The "ark of God's covenant" mentioned in the first sentence refers to the ornate box in which ancient Israel had carried the stone tablets of their covenant with the Lord.
Between psalm and second reading:

Some Christians in the rambunctious community of Corinth disputed the gospel teaching about the resurrection. Paul corrected them at length. In this passage, he connects the resurrection of all the dead with God's final judgment of the world.
Before the gospel acclamation:

In Saint Luke's gospel, women are typically models of faith. In this passage from early in the gospel, both Mary and her kinswoman Elizabeth are surprisingly with child. The elder woman affirms the younger's faith.

To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).

First reading, Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-a, 10ab [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Situation: The book of Revelation is never easy to interpret. But we can say with confidence that the last thing to try to discern in it is any prediction about the future. It's much wiser to interpret the book with these assumptions: Its original audience were persecuted Christians, the book's symbolic language expressed things in a code that Christians could understand but their persecutors could not, and that the purpose of the book was to bolster the faith of the persecuted. As with all Scripture, the best way to read it today is to ask these questions: That said, the woman in today's reading is symbolic of the church, and her offspring represents the way the church brings Christ into the world. The dragon represents the world's resistance to Christ and the truths that the church proclaims.

The "ark of [God's] covenant" in the first sentence means this. While Moses was leading the Hebrew escapees from Egypt to the promised land, God made a covenant with them, inscribing it on stone tablets. These stones were to be carried in an ornate chest, or ark, of acacia wood and gold. See Exodus, chapter 25. That ark became Israel's most sacred object.

The Lectionary passage leaves out a few sentences about a battle, Revelation 12:6b-9 in which God's angels triumph over those of Satan. This leads into the last quoted sentence, the victorious proclamation by the loud voice.

Proclaiming It: Read this dramatically, and make the last paragraph sound victorious.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Theological Background: All of chapter 15 of First Corinthians is about Christ's resurrection and our own. Some in Corinth had denied that believers are destined to rise from the dead, so Paul makes a long argument, of which today's reading is the kernel.

Proclaiming It: What makes this appropriate for proclamation today is the conclusion. So emphasize the parts about Christ's ultimate victory over death.

Other commentaries on these passages:
Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for this feast, when it fell on Sundays in recent years: courtesy of The Evangelist, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, or of The Belleville Messenger, of the Diocese of Belleville.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.

Bible Study pages of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Mississippi.
Saint Charles' introduction gives an interesting history of the feast.

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.

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Last modified: July 29, 2013