Ark of new covenant taken into heaven, body and soul

Published: August 18, 2018

By Deacon Mike Cumnock
St. Mary Church, Batesville / St. Cecilia Church, Newport

In June, Little Rock Scripture Study sponsored its 28th Bible Institute. Brother John Barker, OFM, spent the weekend leading us in an exploration of the Old Testament as a treasury of God’s love for us. He is the God of promise, fidelity, power, wisdom and mercy.

Our time spent together reminded me that although we have divided Scripture into segments, which makes it easier for us to study and find particular passages, the Bible taken as a whole is an ongoing story of God’s covenant with us, his people. Our salvation history is a continuing story.

The institute planted in me a new zeal to explore the interconnectedness between the scriptures Jesus grew up with and the continuing story we call the New Testament.

The feast of the assumption is based on the doctrine that we, as Catholics, believe that at the end of Mary’s life, she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. Jesus ascended under his own power, but Mary was taken up into heaven by God.

On Aug. 15, we honored Mary as we celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ark of the new covenant. In December we celebrate her Immaculate Conception, believing that Mary began life without original sin.

The feast of the assumption is based on the doctrine that we, as Catholics, believe that at the end of Mary’s life, she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. Jesus ascended under his own power, but Mary was taken up into heaven by God.

As a human vessel, Mary was created from birth to be the ark. It is assumed that Mary died, but it does not affect the honor of assumption. In 1950 Pope Pius XII stated that “after the completion of her earthly life she was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”

Looking to the Old Testament connectedness, the ark was the place where God and mankind could meet. God would literally hover over the ark when it was approached by the priests and was always present figuratively through the testimony contained within.

The stone tablets of the commandments represented the entire law given to Moses by God and was always in the presence of the people.

Careful instruction was given by God himself to Moses as to how the ark was to be constructed. God designed a pristine ornate acacia wood box overlaid with pure gold inside and out. He also gave instructions on the construction of all the accoutrements necessary to conduct worship.

The Old Testament contains wonderful stories related to the life of the ark. When it was completed, the Spirit of God overshadowed it. When it was being carried to the hill country, David asked himself, “How can the ark of the Lord come to be with me?”

The ark returned to Jerusalem where God’s glory was revealed in the temple. According to Hebrews, the ark also contained a golden urn holding manna sent from heaven to feed the people. Sometime around 600 B.C. the ark disappeared.

When it was time for the appearance of the Messiah, God himself fashioned the perfect shrine to honor his Son — a woman born without sin, the new Eve — to house the new covenant. When Mary accepted her call, the Spirit of God overshadowed her. The perfect dwelling place became the ark of God’s only begotten Son.

He would one day feed his people with both his word and his own body come down from heaven. Mary visited Elizabeth who asked, “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”

Mary returned home and eventually ended up in Jerusalem where she presented Jesus in the temple. At the end of her life on earth, she was taken into heaven: the perfect honor for the ark.