By Will Deatherage, Executive Director
They brought in the ark of God and set it within the tent1 Chr 16:1-2
which David had pitched for it.
Then they offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.
When David had finished offering up the burnt offerings and peace offerings,
he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.
In my opinion, the Western world has lost an appreciation for sanctity, which has yielded a lack of care for sacred objects and spaces. Admittedly, many modern Catholic churches fail to adequately convey the importance of that which they harbor: the Eucharist. For ancient Jews, though, attention to detail in their temples, tabernacles, and rituals was unimaginably important. They believed that one miniscule mistake could result in God’s wrath, as detailed in the horrifying deaths of Nadab and Abihu after they presented God with an “unauthorized fire.” Nothing less than perfection was acceptable for Jewish sacred spaces, and no object was more important than the Ark of the Covenant, which held God’s Word, the Ten Commandments, inscribed on two stone tablets.
The sting of death is sin,1 Cor 15:56-57
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the moment of Christ’s conception, the Word of God revealed by prophets and inscribed on stone tablets became a living person. There was one major problem, though. While God instructed His people to create perfect spaces like the ark and temples to hold His written Word, He could not simply ask a living person, who would carry His Son, to be perfect themselves, given mankind’s inherent sinfulness. How, then, was God supposed to enter the world as a human if there was no person worthy of birthing Him?
While Jesus was speaking,Lk 11:27
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
The creation of a living vessel worthy of containing the living God would have required the circumvention of original sin altogether. This dilemma is precisely how the Catholic Church arrived at the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s perpetual sinlessness. God imbued a special grace into Mary that eliminated her ability to sin. The implications of sinlessness extend far beyond ethical behavior, though. A person who does not suffer from sin means that they cannot suffer from a death because of sin (see Paul’s reasoning above). A sinless Mary cannot die an ordinary human death, so she must have been carried, or assumed, into Heaven itself. These dogmas are necessary to solve the problem of Christ’s incarnation; without a perfect living temple to bear God’s Word, His entry into the world would have been impossible.
Critics of this Catholic dogma will claim that Mary’s assumption into Heaven is not mentioned in scripture. While they are correct, consider the sentence “Christopher, a human, was born.” Based on our understanding of what it means to be a human, we can assume that Christopher had human parents, even if the sentence does not mention anything about them. Likewise, based on our understanding of Jewish purity and temple laws, “Jesus, a God-Man, was born,” logically implies that whoever bore Him must have been perfect, sinless, and therefor incapable of an ordinary death.
It is fitting that the Old Testament readings on the Feast of the Assumption mention the close attention to detail Jews paid to the perfection of the vessel that held God’s Word. Ironically for Biblical literalists, scripture provides the most insightful evidence for Mary’s perpetual fidelity and purity that would culminate in her escape from a death caused by sin’s corruptibility. The dogma of the Assumption is, therefore, not only scripturally sound but is entirely reliant on everything the Old Testament tells us about God’s nature and His relationship to us.
 See Leviticus 10.