Friday, August 10, 2018

The Assumption of Mary

Dear Friends,

Wednesday our Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary.

The date, the feast, its meaning can easily escape us. What does this feast say about Mary? What does it have to do with my life? More than we think.

It’s a feast of homecoming. Mary believed in the promises of God, among which is Eternal Life. She waited long to go home to God. Joseph died too soon, and much to her pain, Jesus too died. Joyously, He was raised up and ascended to be home with God. All her life, Mary prayed the Psalms of her people and wondered, “When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter into the presence of God?” (Ps.42). Her life, tucked away in obscurity as she aged, gave way to newness. She was taken up whole and entire. Someday it will be thus with us as well.

It’s a feast that recognizes that the whole human person is worthy of being taken up. Mary is the first. We will all follow. One day, our entire body, soul, spirit, memory, thought, consciousness will be taken up. With God, we can expect nothing less.

It is a feast that honors our bodies as part of our redeemed whole. It’s good to remind ourselves that human bodies are good and redeemed, even as our souls and spirits are redeemed: our bodies, the bodies of our family members, babies, loved ones, wrinkled bodies that assume character with length of years, women’s bodies, men’s bodies, bodies that don’t seem to work very well, young and energetic bodies. They are all worthy of honor.

Contrast this way of thinking and living with the dishonor with which we see human bodies treated in our world today: carnage, pornography, sex slavery, the abuse of women, children and the unborn. Some people live as though human bodies are throwaways, worthless, “collateral damage” for our use and abuse, to make money and gain power. People in the world over could turn this feast into an affirmation of the body’s holiness, goodness. Wouldn’t it make a wondrous difference if this could become a lasting, absorbing world view?

It is a feast that proclaims that life is without end. We put closure on our conversation, conferences, business dealings, and sometimes on our relationships. The opposite of closure is “without end.” We say, “I will love you forever (beyond death).” We pray to one God, world without end. There was no closure in the life of Mary. No closure in our lives, either.

Today, set aside whatever ordinarily absorbs you and focus your attention on the homecoming of Mary. Let your mind and heart soar to the great beyond. Let’s thank God for Mary’s life without end. Let’s think of our own future without end. Let’s enjoy this holyday when we celebrate Christ’s victory writ large in His Mother.

~Sister Joan Sobala