The Assumption of Mary is represented above an altar in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lourdes, France.
Mary's assumption pertains to us
Brother John M. Samaha, SM
Like every doctrine of faith, Mary's Assumption into heaven body and soul is about us too. Mary is our model in faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. She teaches us how to live in a faith-filled and loving way.
Mary's Assumption teaches us how to live with hope even in dying, how to anticipate our eternal destiny. The Solemnity of the Assumption, observed on Aug. 15, celebrates the completion of Mary's transformation by the Holy Spirit, being taken to heaven not only in soul but also in body.
Mary's Assumption brings us hope because it reminds us that what happened to Mary is our destiny too. The Preface of the Mass declares that the Assumption is "the beginning and the image of Your Church's coming to perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort for Your people."
We are the Church. Mary's bodily assumption is a harbinger of what will happen to us. What God has done for Mary gives us hope and comfort in what He will do for us.
St. Paul reminds us that even in this life believers are already being transformed into the image of Christ. "All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord who is Spirit" (2Cor 3:18). This transformation affects not only our souls but also our bodies. "... we groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23). Our bodies will be conformed to the body of Christ. "He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorious body by the power that enables Him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself" (Phil 3:21). This transformation results from Jesus' victory over the power of sin and death in His own death and Resurrection.
The opening prayer for the Aug. 15 Eucharistic Liturgy asks that "always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory." Living in tune with God as Mary did, we will also undergo the transformation of both our souls and our bodies.
The post communion prayer requests that "through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom you assumed into heaven, we may be brought to the glory of the Resurrection."
When celebrating the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI offered this clear description in his homily. "... the Mother of God is inserted to such a degree in the mystery of Christ that she shares in the resurrection of her Son with her whole being already at the end of her life, she lives what we hope for at the end of time ...."
While admiring Mary in her glorious destiny, we are invited to recognize that the loving Lord has willed for our final destiny to live through faith in perfect union with him.
Our predecessors in faith professed their firm hope in "the resurrection of the body" in the Apostles' Creed and in the Nicene Creed. We rarely think about the resurrection of our bodies. Yet this article of faith greatly encourages us, comforts us at the death of loved ones and raises our awareness of the value of our bodies.
The Assumption of Mary vividly reminds us that our lives have a special destiny with God.
(Marianist Brother John Samaha is a retired religious educator who worked for many years in the catechetical department of the Oakland diocese. He now resides in Cupertino.)
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