On August 15th, Catholics around the globe celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. Since the earliest days of Christianity, we have believed that Our Lady was assumed body and soul into heaven. If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Assumption you can read about it, here and here. Catholics and Protestants can argue about the doctrine at great length, but my interest in this article is to examine the implications of the Assumption on our faith and lives. Instead of trying to use scripture, tradition, early Christian writings, and historical texts to try to convince others of this truth, let’s look at the beauty of what it holds, if we accept it at face value.
Our Lady was the first and best disciple of Jesus Christ. She loved Him before any other person and was with Him until the very end of His natural life. Who would Jesus have loved more than any other? I shudder to think what Mary’s heart felt when the young Jesus remained in Jerusalem after the Passover celebration. Consider the connection that event had to the time Our Lord spent in the tomb. Jesus was lost to Mary and Joseph for three days. They shed many tears and called His holy name for countless hours before finally finding Him in the temple. Go forward twenty years. Mary stands by the foot of the cross, speechless, breathless, watching her child die, watching her savior die. He would soon be gone to her for three days again. She gave her life to Him when she told Gabriel, “Let it me done to me according to your word.” I have consoled parents who have buried their child. There were no words, only hugs and shared tears. Mary lost her child again, except this time to death on a cross, and He was God incarnate!
Gloriously, the Lord rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Before doing this, he left the church in the hands of St. Peter with, “You are the rock,” and His mother in the hands of St. John with, “Behold, your mother.” The growth of the church is chronicled in the Acts of the Apostles without mention of Mary’s activity or role. That doesn’t mean she didn’t have one and that we can’t use reason and contemplation to consider how she lived among the apostles. There is a beautiful movie called Full of Grace which considers what Our Lady might have meant to St. Peter and the apostles. If you don’t have time to watch the whole movie, skip to the end and watch a dramatization of Mary’s death. The writer and director did a great job convincing the viewer that all Mary ever wanted was to be with Jesus. That is what we are called to feel.
I feel great comfort in the doctrine of the Assumption. How could Jesus not receive His beloved mother into His arms at first chance considering their lives together? Emulating the love of Mary for Jesus, I feel He will claim me after death as well. Not being sinless like Our Lady, I understand that purgation will come first, but the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption gives me great hope that I, like Mary, will be with Jesus in heaven, body and soul. That is why I call it a promise to disciples. Be not afraid.
Copyright 2017 Mark Andrews