Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
July 23, 2007
Mary's Assumption is our divine hope
Sometimes, we ask the wrong question. We ask, for example, whether human beings, of all the animals, can rise from the dead. We might better ask why human beings, created in the image and likeness of God and sharing in divine life, should ever die.
Indeed, death is far from fitting for beings that God created to be his adopted children and to be the stewards of his creation. Humanity was created in grace, in union with the Trinity, to live in an everlasting paradise.
The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we celebrate Aug. 15, is a sign that grace is still possible, that we can still share in divine life.
Adam's sin, of course, was what marred God's original blessing, bringing death into the world. Adam chose to turn his back on grace, a choice in which we share through our human condition.
Adam's choice not only ruptured humanity's relationship with God, it tainted the relationships among human beings and shattered the purity of creation itself.
Our view of reality is perverted by sinfulness. Human society is undermined by our great vulnerability to follow temptation. Our vision is unclear; our will to do good is weak.
But our basic nature has not changed. Humans are still created in God's image and likeness. We can still share in divine life.
Our fallen nature does not stop God from being our friend. It does not stop God from sending his Son as our Saviour. Nor does it stop God from creating his mother in the fullness of grace and preserving her from sin.
Mary reveals to us what we might have been. It was Mary who was "full of grace," preserved in the original blessing to be the Mother of God. Conceived without sin, she was capable of doing God's will completely in a fallen world.
This is a truth of our faith and we might take it for granted. But Mary is the New Eve, serving as Jesus' helpmate, just as Eve - also conceived without sin - was to serve as Adam's helpmate. Eve's brokenness in the midst of a perfect creation shows that it was no sure thing that Mary would do God's will. But she did do it. Despite all the fallenness around her, Mary chose to do God's will.
This was true, not just at the Annunciation, but throughout her life. At Cana, she told servants, "Do whatever he tells you." When a woman in a crowd praises the woman who gave birth to Jesus and raised him, Jesus replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it" (Luke 11:27-28). Jesus did this, not to disparage his mother, but to let us know that Mary's greatest accomplishment is hearing and doing God's will. And when Jesus hung dying on the cross, Mary stood there in silent witness when Jesus' other followers had fled.
It is truly amazing witness. When we think of the Church, we understand Peter and his successors as being Christ's vicars. But while the successors of the apostles maintain truth and order, Mary brings life. She is queen of the apostles, mother of the Church. Her way of perfect holiness - perfect service to Jesus - is our path through the bramble and confusion of the fallen world.
So, the Assumption. If death is not our nature, but the tragic consequence of our alienation from God, it is only fitting that the one who was full of grace be freed from death. Mary shared in divine life, was God's trusted friend throughout her days. When those days came to a close, she was taken to be with God in the fullness of her being.
Her Assumption is our hope. Redeemed by Christ, restored to divine friendship, we will one day be where Mary is now.
Our brokenness left behind, we will be close to Jesus and share in a harmonious divine and human family.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.