Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lectionary: 622

For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

With the Assumption of Mary the Church celebrates not only the glory that has been given to his most favored daughter, we also remember the promise that has been given to us, “in Christ all shall be brought to life.”

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul reflects on that promise as he recalls the victory Jesus has won through his passion and death. He follows a reasonable trail of future visions -- one following from another -- from Jesus’ resurrection to the resurrection of the Church to the fulfillment when he “hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father.” In the meanwhile Jesus will destroy the last enemy, which is death, for everything is subject to Jesus’ authority.

An ancient author describes Death’s customary insolence as it ravaged the Earth. Discovering a crucified man on that fatal day in Jerusalem, the Monster did not hesitate to swallow him up as it had so many millions before. Proud and powerful, it could not imagine the humility of God which waited like a poisoned trap. When Death swallowed Jesus he destroyed it from within and erupted from the tomb to Resurrected Life, a destiny amazing and beautiful and, even yet, unimaginable.

In that same moment Sin collapsed. Hanged on a tree, Jesus suffered the shame and guilt of every human being, but he was not overcome by them. Innocent by nature and guilty only by association he appealed to his God and was saved. His fidelity to the Father and the Father’s intense love of Jesus dismissed Sin as easily as the Sun disperses the morning dew. Sin, which is isolation, could not withstand the communion of the Father and the Son.

Nor can it withstand the communion of the Holy Spirit which the Father and the Son give to us. Though your efforts and mine to attain heaven might be feeble at best the Lord comes to meet us. Like the father in Jesus’ parable he sees us from afar and runs to greet his beloved.

In the story of Mary we hear of God’s superabundant grace. Because she was destined to be the Mother of God she was given the grace of “immaculation” from the moment of her conception. Throughout her life she advanced from grace to grace. She always had a choice and she always chose rightly. For that reason we can boast of her. As the poet Wordsworth said of her, “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”

We do not suppose that grace led her to sidestep every difficulty and challenge. Life is easy for noone and there is no reason it should be. We know of only a few of her challenges: the suspicions around her pregnancy, her exile in Egypt, Jesus’ adolescent adventure in the temple, and her presence at his crucifixion. We suppose others: the death of Joseph, her having only one child, and her anxiety as he took up his mission. Surviving her son by many years, she knew also the travails of the early church, including martyrdom.

The Assumption celebrates the victory Mary won by her fidelity. This daughter of God the Father, mother of God the Son and spouse of the Holy Spirit, innocent of every sin and yet a mortal like you and me, is the perfect receptacle of God’s grace. Her trip to Jerusalem to visit Elizabeth, her intervention at Cana, and her accompanying Jesus on Calvary assure us a saint is no passive observer of God’s mighty works; she plays her part.

In her Assumption we see Jesus’ victory: For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. God has delivered Mary from death; she has been raised up, raptured, into God’s embrace, for “he subjected everything under his feet.” Where she has gone we hope to follow. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.