Celebrations that commemorate Mary gild the liturgical year. Among others, we remember her Immaculate Conception, her Presentation at the Temple, her fiat at the Annunciation, her Visitation unto Elizabeth, her divine maternity, and, today, her Assumption into heaven. In the Assumption, Mary’s graced life reaches its culmination by ultimate union with the source of grace.
If Adam and Eve had not sinned, the separation of the body and soul at death and the subsequent corruption of the body would be foreign to man. God freed Mary from the stain of that original sin at her conception, thus restoring to her our lost purity. Nonetheless, he did not wish merely to restore us to Eden; he desired to bring us to a higher glory. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for us, and at the end of time he will restore our bodies in a new creation. Mary gave Jesus his human nature, and he in turn repaid her a hundred-fold by bringing her into heaven to share in his bodily resurrection now. In the words of the preface of today’s Mass, the Assumption is “the beginning and image of your Church’s coming to perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people.” It is a foretaste of what is to come to us, and the choirs of angels surely rejoiced exceedingly when their queen entered her home in heaven.
Mary, having borne Christ in her womb and having pondered him in her heart, heard the word of God and kept it during her earthly life. Her perfect obedience to the divine will and the fact that she became the mother of God made Mary the highest of all women, “the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the fairest honor of our race.” (Benedictus Antiphon, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday) Through her Assumption, she received the capacity to do the Lord’s will at an even higher level.
By this awe-inspiring gift, Mary now shares Christ’s love for us and can hear the supplication of all. She who traveled to assist her kinswoman Elizabeth during her pregnancy now assists each of us. She who turned the gaze of her son to a newlywed’s lack of wine in Cana now turns his gaze to every family who turns to her. She who stood by the cross of her son now consoles us in our suffering. Today we thank God that he gave us such a mother and placed her in such an exalted place. Mary, queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.
Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)