The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19;12:1-6,10 + 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 + Luke 1:39-56
“… my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ….”
Today the Church celebrates the Assumption of our Blessed Mother into heaven. The Assumption was a gift that God gave to Mary at the end of her earthly life. To put this gift into perspective, consider this. We know that anyone who dies without sin and without attachment to sin is assumed into heaven when he or she dies: but only that person’s soul. When someone dies in a perfect state of grace, that person’s soul is assumed by God into Heaven. That person’s body, of course, remains buried under the earth until the Final Judgment. But at the end of her earthly life, Mary was taken up into heaven both in soul and body.
Why did God give this gift to Mary? Why did He so highly privilege her at the end of her earthly life? One way to get at an answer is to see how this gift was related to another of God’s gifts: that is, the gift God had given Mary at the beginning of her earthly life, when Mary was conceived by Saint Anne.
Here you can see how the twin gifts of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are bound together in meaning. It was because Mary had never been touched by sin—either the Original Sin of Adam, or her own actual sin—that her body and soul were not torn in two by death. On the one hand, God kept Original Sin from staining Mary, in virtue of the vocation He wanted her to accept: to be the Mother of Jesus Christ. For her part, throughout her earthly life, she never committed an actual sin, either mortal or venial.
Now, there might be some who consider Mary’s vocation and then scoff, saying, “How hard could it be to be the mother of God?” From one perspective, it’s true that if your son was like Jesus, who in fact was God Incarnate, you would experience many consolations: no reports from the principal about fighting; no yelling at and kicking his cousins; no backtalk or rolling of eyes; no breaking of curfews.
Yet there’s more to motherhood than keeping your children out of trouble. In fact, mothers are not meant to keep their children out of all trouble, or even necessarily out of the most serious of trouble. It’s here that the uniqueness of the Blessed Virgin’s vocation comes into sharper focus.
Motherhood is defined not by keeping children away from all evil, but in steering the child towards what is the greatest Good. After all, for the Christian, sometimes the greatest good that needs to be embraced is an evil. Does that sound strange?
Think of Jesus embracing the Cross on Good Friday. Then think of Mary on Good Friday, and what her vocation meant that day. She would have been naturally tempted to shield her Son from the Cross. You who are mothers know instinctually the desire to shield your child from harm. But Mary was supernaturally moved to join her Son in His vocation as the Messiah of the human race.
Sometimes you’ll hear both mothers and fathers who say, “I just want my child to be happy.” But we need to stop and think about what that statement means in the end. We need to ask ourselves: “Was Jesus happy on Good Friday?” Yet Good Friday was the Hour for which Jesus came into this world. Good Friday was the day when His vocation reached its summit. Here is what fathers and mothers must want for their children more than anything else, including earthly happiness: namely, that one’s child embrace his or her vocation. Only by faithfulness to one’s vocation on earth can a person be happy eternally in Heaven.
As we honor our Blessed Mother today, we recognize that there are many “good things” that mothers have and give to their children. But with the eyes of Faith, we see that there’s something even more difficult that a mother has to give. A mother has to teach her child what it means not only to embrace the Cross, but to love the Cross. For in loving the Cross, we love Jesus Himself.
Of all the “good things” a mother has to give her children, a love of the Cross is the “best thing”, because that’s the only road that leads to Heaven. To help us in accepting this as Gospel, Mary was given the fullness of grace.