The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
I saw a movie about a natural disaster that caused a community to have a new turn in its life. At the conclusion of the movie, rather than having the familiar phrase “The End” on the screen, it shows instead “The Beginning.”
We can say that about the end of Mary’s earthly life. It really was the beginning of her glorious life with God in kingdom. It was also the beginning of her powerful intercession in heaven for all of us. Mary’s Assumption is the inauguration of the era when all generations would indeed call her blessed.
Today’s scripture readings offer us some insights into how we see and understand Mary and her relationship to us and to the Church. The most important thing about Mary is that she is a disciple of Jesus. Vatican II shows Mary to be the model for the Church and for every disciple of the Lord Jesus. She is the model disciple whom we must strive to become like, so we can be, as fully as possible, disciples of Jesus Christ.
Mary’s Assumption shows us the conclusion of a life of fidelity – a life of faithful discipleship. It is a pledge that full salvation in Christ is available for all of us. Where Mary has gone, we hope to follow.
A friend told me that she is going through hardships and difficulties, trials and tribulations, problems and crises, she always looks at the painting of the Assumption of Mary in her room. She does this to remind herself, in a profound way, that the same reward of a glorious life awaits all of us who are faithful to Christ in our daily life.
Joseph Krempa has this reflection on today’s feast: “Every moment of faithful discipleship which was unseen by others is seen by God.” “Every interior struggle against temptation about which the world will never know is known by God.” “Every good intention that the world misunderstood is thoroughly understood by God.” “Every kind, generous, charitable deed that was invisible to the world is visible to God.” Every act of humble service that world belittles is generously blessed by God. The Assumption means that our full and final reward is with God.
There is another thing I want to say about today’s feast: The Assumption shows us the triumph of the spiritual. In our culture, the soul is made a function of the body as everything is reduced to the material. Spiritual goods always take the last place due to the pursuit of material goods. Love is reduced to physical attraction, to sex, to lust. Prayer declines into numerical repetitions, and pious devotions into attempts to get material and physical blessings. Success is defined as job promotion, career achievement, or business prosperity. Fulfillment is commercialized into self-help programs. Fruitfulness is equated to material productivity. Charity devolves into giving monetary donations. The good life is sought outside of God – apart from God’s grace and presence. The tangible, the material and the measurable influence everything we are.
The Assumption shows us that the body follows the soul. In the end, our bodies will be raised to be reunited with our soul. In the Assumption of Mary, we see that our hope is rooted and fulfilled in God, in his faithful love. And in it, our woundedness and brokenness, our weaknesses and limitations, our isolation and disintegration, our sinfulness will all be healed in God. The deepest hungers of the human heart here on earth cannot be satisfied by the things of earth but by God.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians in today’s second reading that no earthly authority, sovereignty, or power is final. History itself shows us that they all are temporary. Christ alone will be ultimately victorious because he is the final authority, sovereignty, and power. He will complete every human life not by destroying it but by completing and finalizing each person’s deepest longings and aspirations. The Assumption shows us what will happen to those who have spent their life seeking God – living a life of fidelity to the Lord.
As we celebrate today’s feast, as we honor Mary as the perfect disciple, let renew our commitment to be Christ’s faithful disciples, like her. The Assumption shows us that the goal of the entire Christian community and of every person of good will is eternal and full union with God.