Saturday, August 15, 2009
Feast of the Assumption
What is the meaning of this feast of the Assumption? What is it exactly that we are celebrating?
We celebrate what God has done for us in Jesus which shows itself in a marvelous way through Mary.
Before Jesus was born, the world was under a sentence of death. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered into the world and death along with it. God's gift of life was cut short. When Mary said, "Let it be done to me according to your word", Jesus was conceived. His birth, life and death won for us a second chance at a life which could not die.
Death would no longer be the last word over God's creation. Sin introduced suffering and death into our bodies, but by his resurrection Jesus promised to raise up our bodies and give us new ones incapable of suffering or dying. This means that all the consequences of sin have been cancelled out. At the end of time, sin will be left holding nothing. Sin will be left totally defeated because of Christ's victory over death.
By being taken up body and soul into heaven, Mary is the first to benefit from Jesus' victory over death. Because she was the first to believe in Jesus, because she was the first to ponder this mystery of salvation in her heart, she also became the first to share in Jesus' resurrection. God would not allow the body of the woman from whom Jesus took his human flesh to rot in a grave but raised her body and soul into heaven.
Because God called her to be the mother of the Savior, Mary is blessed among all women. God equipped her with the grace she needed to be a fitting mother for the Son of God. She was privileged to know Jesus more completely and more intimately than anyone else who ever lived. And yet, her greatness came from her faith, from her willingness to say yes to God's will. And she teaches us to do the same. Her last recorded words in the gospel are from the wedding feast of Cana when she directed the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Even now from heaven she points us in the direction of her son.
Though Mary played a singular, unrepeatable role in Jesus' life, what God has done for Mary - the many graces he favored her with - are not for Mary alone. She shines forth as the first person to enjoy what God has in store for us who have believed as Mary believed. Just as Mary was conceived without original sin, so God promises by the death and resurrection of Jesus to wipe us clean of our sins, to make us immaculate. Mary was taken body and soul into heaven to give us hope that one day we will be in heaven reunited to a body that will remain forever young.
God did great things for Mary by calling her to be the mother of our Savior, Jesus. God also promises to do great things for us. What we celebrate is not just a privilege God has granted to Mary alone but a promise which God holds out also to us who follow her example of faith and trust.
Mary stands as a reason of hope for us because what God had done for her he promises to do for us as well.