As the consequences of the pandemic play themselves out and an emotional culture of fear and anxiety takes the stage, people are looking for hope. Sources of hope can be found throughout the Christian message, but nervousness weighs heavy on the heart. Sometimes people need something more than a message. They need something more personal. They need a mother’s love and reassurance.
For this very reason, the Lord Jesus gave us his mother as a gift. Dying on the Cross, he told each of us, “Behold, your mother!” And so, within the forum of this restlessness and fear, the Lord Jesus gives humanity the gift of his mother. She is the first fruit of redemption. We see in Mary everything that God the Father wants to do in each of us through the saving work of Jesus Christ. She is the model, the pattern, and the archetype.
Like a good mother, Mary is our consolation and hope. In our trying and uncertain times, we turn to her and find the warmth of a mother’s embrace and the strength of a mother’s encouragement.
This weekend, we turn to Mary as a universal Church. We celebrate her glorious Assumption into heaven. It is a mystery that crowns all the workings of God’s grace in Mary, who was so generous of heart and who always joyfully said “yes” to his divine will.
As the fears and anxieties of this world seek to flood our hearts, death rises as the greatest fear of them all. Whether it is our own death, or the death of loved ones, such fear rules over all others. We blend all our other worries about possible horrors in the single question about death.
Today, Mary’s Assumption shines light into fear. The truths that flow from the Assumption put this fear in context. By Mary’s glorious entrance into heaven, body and soul, we are reminded that we were not meant to die. In the story of salvation, death is a consequence of sin. In the loss of grace at the beginning of time, disorder was introduced within our human nature. Death is a consequence, as is physical suffering, moral evil, and doubts about God.
When God created Adam and Eve, the body shared in the immortality of the human soul. The discord of sin changed that harmony. This clashing discord is played out in every death and in all the evils and anxieties that overwhelm fallen humanity.
The Lord Jesus, however, came among us as our Redeemer. He destroyed the power of sin and death in our world by the power of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. While we still feel the effects of our fallen nature, they no longer have the last word. Rather than an ending, death is now a transition from one state of life to another.
In Jesus Christ, everlasting life is offered to each of us. In Mary, we see the first fruits of this victory over sin and death. In her Assumption, we see a perfected and shining example of the salvation won by the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.
In Mary’s passage of body and soul from this life into eternal life, the effects of our redemption are played out. We see in Mary what God wants to do in the life of all his children. In her assumption, we see – in personal form – what will happen at the end of our lives (and at the end of this world). At our deaths, our souls will receive their eternal reward. At the end of time, our glorified bodies will join our souls in eternity.
This eternal perspective, made personal by Mary’s Assumption, can give the believer a renewed sense of purpose and meaning. With Mary’s presence and witness, the believer can find deeper hope in all the twists and turns of this fallen world.
And so, the spiritual wisdom rings true, we die as we have lived. And in the passing of Mary into eternity, we see a life on earth concluded the same way it had always been lived, in total union and in radical trust in the wisdom and power of God.
As we celebrate Mary’s glorious Assumption, we are invited to put our fears and concerns in their proper place, to hold an eternal perspective, and to share in her confidence in God.