The Ophir of the Faithful
“The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir” ~ Psalm 45
For those of you who pray the Breviary, oftentimes referred to as “The Liturgy of the Hours,” today’s Responsorial Psalm may sound familiar. The evening prayer will occasionally include the recitation of this Psalm verse.
Ophir was a port region oftentimes mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon was said to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls and ivory from Ophir every three years. The Book of Kings and Chronicles tell of a joint expedition to Ophir by King Solomon and the Tyrian King Hiram I from Ezion-Geber, a port on the Red Sea. This fruitful expedition brought back large amounts of stunningly beautiful gold and precious stones. It is because of this tale that renowned explorer Alvaro Mendaña, the first European to discover what was believed to be Ophir, named them the Solomon Islands. The legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco deGama’s trusty sidekick Tome on the other hand believed that Ophir was in actuality on the cusp of Zimbabwe while the theologian Benito Arias proposed finding Ophir in the name of Peru, reasoning that the native Peruvians were in fact the descendants of Ophir and Shem. In any event, it is only fitting that the Church pauses today to honor and venerate the greatest, most beautiful, and precious of all the Saints, the “Ophir of the Faithful,” Mary the Mother of God, as she is assumed into paradise where she will reside as the eternal Heavenly Queen.
In the days and weeks leading up to this celebration, the daily readings have taken us through the books of three of the great prophets; Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. This is but a logical progression, for it is Mary who now takes her place high atop the list of even the greatest of prophets as she announces with the greatest lucidity, jubilation, and euphoria the coming of the Messiah.
As St. John Damascene (676-749) put it: “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions.”
The Assumption is implicit in the Hail Mary prayer, as our plea to Mary concludes with the petition, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” Mary’s Assumption is the joyful anticipation that all members of Christ’s mystical body here on Earth will one day join in celebrating her Queenship in Heaven after a life spent coming to know, love and serve our Lord through the intercession of His Mother and ours.
”Pray for us, Oh Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.” ~ Amen