When uninformed people challenge the teaching of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, they do it believing that there is no biblical evidence of such event. In the Bible there is an account of Jesus’ ascension but no mention is made of the Virgin Mary’s assumption. How does the Church know that Mary’s assumption?
Acts 1, 1-12 — In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “LORD, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.
By carefully reading this passage the Christian believers establish that Jesus ascended into Heaven in the presence of about five-hundred people. That was immediately followed by the appearance of two angels. The local traditions even point at the place where this event took place.
There have been many challenges to Jesus’ resurrection throughout history even to this day. The skeptics have always proposed alternative explanations. The most common and ancient is that the body of Jesus was taken by the disciples, who took it to “fake” a resurrection and make the impostor appear as a Messiah. (Matthew 27, 62-66) Early on, some of Jesus’ disciples found the tomb empty, and thought that their enemies had taken the body of the Lord (John 20, 1-2).
The historical evidence that we have today, shows very clearly that the small band of Jewish believers went to evangelize the world even at the cost of their life. That is hardly the behavior of liars faking a resurrection to start a false religion. All but one of the apostles died a martyr’s death. It is hard to believe that people can go as far as getting horribly tortured and killed to perpetuate a hoax. There is only one way to explain the events that followed Christ’s death: he was resurrected. Later his disciples took the fire of Jesus’ Gospel to every corner of the earth, because they had plenty of proof that their Lord was alive.
That is how we explain the resurrection of Jesus but we still have no report of what happen to Mary. In reality we have an indirect report: the body of Mary is nowhere to be found. Now we don’t have only one empty tomb. We have two!
It is well known to historians in general, that Christians took loving care of the relics of the saints. Body parts, bones, hair and belongings of the martyred saints have been carefully preserved and treasured for centuries. We know for the most part where the apostles are buried. We also know the burial sites of some of the first and second century martyrs as well.
Could it be possible that, somehow, the early Christians neglected to make a note of where Mary was buried? Again, we are faced with indirect evidence that Mary had a destiny different than other early saints.
Assumptions into heaven are registered in the Bible. Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven (Hebrews 11, 5; 2 Kings 2, 11). In Matthew 27, 52-53 there is an account of holy people whose bodies left their graves after Christ death. These early resurrections prefigured the resurrection of all those who die faithful to the New Covenant in Christ to this very day. The assumption of Mary in nothing more than believing that God allowed her the grace to be resurrected just like He had done with other holy people of the past. The Bible promises that even to sinners like us!
Romans 8, 10-17 — But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
In this passage the apostle Paul promises to us, sinners, that those who suffer with Christ will be glorified with him. Wouldn’t it be odd that the woman who accepted to suffer along with Christ—the Mother of Sorrows—received no special treatment from God? (see Luke 2, 34-35) It is perfectly clear that the one who consecrated her life uniquely to serve God’s purpose and to be the mother of the Messiah, received a special treatment, just as many other holy men and women of God in times past.
1 Corinthians 3, 7-14 — So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
If we are to agree with St. Paul teaching, we only have to consider the place of Mary in the history of salvation to conclude that her reward had to be as unique as her crucial role.
Many confuse the New Testament, with a chronicle that must include everything that happened to the Church. For example, the Gospel of John attests that not all the deeds of Jesus were included in he Gospels (John 21, 25) and many think that there is evidence of a “severe letter” from St. Paul to the Corinthians, a letter that has been lost (see 2 Corinthians 2, 4). It would be unreasonable to conclude that Mary was not assumed into Heaven only because the New Testament does not mention it. We must remember that not every Christian doctrine is contained explicitly in the Bible.
Does the Assumption of Mary contradict Holy Scripture? Not at all. The dogma is actually necessary to confirm some prophecies that must be fulfilled.
If we believe that Jesus was resurrected, we must believe that all authority had been given to Him in Heaven and Earth (Matthew 28, 16-20). Jesus is the Messiah, glorified at the right hand of God the Father. Would he fail to give His mother honor and glory? Would he neglect to honor Mary, thus violating the Fourth Commandment? (See Galatians 4, 4). It is impossible to conclude that Jesus did not love His mother enough to preserve her from corruption and death (compare with Psalms 16, 10). Even a sinful man would not allow his own mother to decay and rot if it was in his power to prevent it. How much more would the Son of God do to His own mother!
That is why we say that the Holy Scriptures necessitate the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. For Jesus to be the Messiah, he has to honor her mother perfectly to the best of his ability. If Mary had been left to suffer the fate of all mortals, then Jesus would have failed to fulfill the Mosaic Law. That, is simply unconceivable. He would not deny to Mary what God had granted to Enoch, Elijah and other holy men and women of ancient times (Genesis 5, 24; Hebrews 11,5; 2 Kings 2, 11-12; 1 Macabees 2,50-64).
So, we can rest biblically assured that Mary’s body did not know corruption and went to Heaven. But, what happened to her once she arrived in Heaven?
In other chapters of this book we have explained how Mary was prefigured in the gebirah, the Mother Queen of Israel who sat in the throne next to the King. It is most obvious that Jesus is the Eternal King of Israel and Mary is the Eternal Queen of Israel (see the chapter “Mary is Ever Virgin”). We know she has been crowned because the apostle St. Paul teaches that all those who live a righteous life in Christ, receive the crown of life in Heaven. Saint Peter tells us that once the Good Shepherd is manifest, we shall receive our crown (1 Peter 5, 4). The apostle St. James teaches the same in James 1, 12. Jesus taught that Himself (Revelation 2, 10).
Having all that testimony from Jesus and the Apostles, are we going to doubt that the woman seen in Heaven by St. John is any other than Mary?
Revelation 12, 1-5 — And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.
This vision confirms the coronation of Mary to all believers. She is also shown giving birth to a child who will rule all the nations, the Messiah, the Christ who is caught up to God and to His throne. In Revelation 12, 17 we are told that she has other offspring. Her spiritual children form the Church of those “who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” That is why Mary is not only the Glory of Her People Israel, she is also the Queen of the Church and the Queen of Heaven, because her Son is Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Revelation 5, 12; 19, 16; Philippians 2:9-11).