Friday, July 29, 2011

The End of the Road

The Assumption means… that God knows and loves the entire person which we are now. The immortal is that which is now growing and developing in our present life… what is imperishable is whatever we have become in our present bodily state; whatever has developed and grown in us, in our present life, among and by means of the things of this world.
Dogma and Preaching, 117

Reflection – Normally I would probably save this particular passage about the Assumption of Mary into heaven for August 15. However, I am going to be engaged in something else right about then that will preclude my being able to blog about much of anything, so here we are. Anyhow, the feast of the Assumption is just around the corner, so it’s never too soon to start thinking and praying about it!
This is a small part of a much longer and larger reflection on the mystery of the Assumption. For the record, in case anyone reading this is unclear on what we believe, the Assumption refers to Mary being taken body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly pilgrimage, as a sign of her perfect cooperation with the work of redemption, and hence her privileged entry into the fullness of resurrection life, body and soul.
When Catholics and Orthodox Christians ascribe these wondrous mysteries to Mary, it’s important to remember that we do so because of our understanding of two things: her unique, unparalleled relationship to Jesus; and her relationship to the Church as a sort of paradigm of what it truly is.
Because of this latter reason, the things we say about Mary really do reflect on our the mystery of our own Christian identity. Otherwise, in a sense, who cares? So Mary is assumed into heaven - whether you believe that or not, what difference does it make?
Mary, simply, is what a saved human being looks like. We look at Mary so as to understand more fully the mystery of what Jesus has done for us. In everyone else’s lives, the mystery of redemption is shadowed somewhat by our own sins, refusals, compromises. Only in Mary do we see what God really is intending to do with us human beings.
And so in the mystery of the Assumption we see ‘the end of the road’. We see that our life is not headed for defeat, futility, misery, tragedy. The end for our lives desired by God is that we share the glory of Christ forever in heaven.
That Mary is assumed body and soul means, as this passage reflects, that our whole self, our real self, our historical, physiological, cultural, social self is going to be raised up into this eternal realm. It will be purified, of course, cleansed of everything that is not love, not truth, not goodness, not beauty. But it will be us, nonetheless. The real person who is walking around now on earth, God desires to walk around forever in the mysterious realm of light we call Heaven.
Mary’s Assumption into Heaven shows us that the heavenly life is already beginning to work in us now, and that our sure and real hope is that all we carry in our hearts right now--all our loves, our enthusiasms, our cares, our concerns, our true concrete personal being -- is going to be met, embraced, and raised up into the mystery of love, forever.

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