My Dear Sisters and Brothers gathered here to venerate the mystery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary! In the ancient world there was also what some describe as a mysterious loss. I mean the Ark of the Covenant, the acacia chest which contained the two tablets with the Ten Commandments. Some of you may still remember “Raiders of the Lost Ark” starring Harrison Ford. However that movie packed with adventures missed two important elements: the Ark of the Covenant wasn’t lost. In the Bible we read that the Prophet Jeremiah prompted by God removed the Ark from the Temple in Jerusalem and hid it in a cave which he sealed. Some of his assistants tried to mark the way to the cave but they couldn’t traced back the path they walked before. So we know from the Scriptures that a few centuries before Christ God himself ordered the Ark to be removed from the Temple. However if those who directed the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” had read the Bible thoroughly they would have known that there was no need for a searching party as the Ark has been out. Let’s go to our second reading from the Book of the Apocalypse where we read: “The sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the Ark of the Covenant could be seen inside it.” However if you look up to heaven to see the acacia box with the Ten Commandments stop it and listen to how John the Apostle describes the Ark of the Covenant. “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labour.” The Ark of the Covenant is no more a wooden box, it is a woman. Is it just a symbol or a metaphor St Joh used? No, John the Apostle who was entrusted by Jesus with the care for Mary wrote of his vision he was given while imprisoned on Patmos. He says: “We have been dreaming and searching for the Ark of the Covenant but we have searched for it in the wrong place. It is not on the earth any more as the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ has been assumed to heaven. She is the new Ark of the Covenant.” In the old Ark there were two stones on which God with his finger wrote the Ten Commandments. It was a divine direction, advice given by the Almighty to ensure the happiness and eternal life of his beloved children. There was also a small container with manna, a gift to sustain the people of God during their travels from Egypt to the Promised Land. However a few centuries before Christ God ordered the removal of the Ark as a new ark was going to be given. In the fullness of time God gave his people not just advice to ensure their happiness. He gave them an Adviser: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The adviser’s name is Jesus Christ. In the fullness of time God gave his people not just a gift of manna. He gave them a Giver who later said of himself: “I am the Bread of life.” The Giver’s name is Jesus Christ.
The great solemnity of the Assumption brings to us the belief which is not an abstract or a lofty idea. On the contrary it is solidly grounded both in heaven and in the earth. As in the Old Testament the essential part of believing was supported by a concrete and sacred artefact: the Ten Commandments as in the New Testament we are supported by a concrete and sacred Person of the Son of God. Our faith is not about daydreaming or having our head in the clouds. Far from it. From the time when “the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to Joseph” we, Christians, have been following a real person. We have been following a real Adviser, who didn’t hesitate to descend to the lowly so that they could reach the highest heaven. We have been following a real Giver who didn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself on the cross and who sustains us with his Body and Blood.
Dear old Eileen had a spark in her eyes when her engagement ring was found after 65 years. I believe that dear old Elizabeth had a similar spark in her eyes when Mary came to her carrying the Son of God in her womb. We Catholics speak of Mary with a spark in our eyes too. It drives some mad when they hear of our veneration, love and childlike attachment to Our Lady. But this beautiful Lady, this new Ark of the Covenant, the Queen dressed in dazzling clothes in heaven, whose exquisiteness surpasses that of the old gold Ark of the Covenant, reminds us that “It was not any cleverly invented myths that we followed” but we have followed the One who found a worthy and pleasing dwelling in her immaculate womb. We have followed the One who took her body and soul to haven. The new Ark of the Covenant is out for those who have faith and humility to look up to heaven.