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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Mary’s Assumption is a model for our own life in heaven

Mary’s Assumption is a model for our own life in heaven

We celebrate the Feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven on August 15. This important feast supports the unity and wholeness of the human person. Sometimes we place Mary on a different, higher level of humanity than we enjoy. It is possible that we can think of her as living a more blessed kind of humanity. This is far from the reality.

The truth is that every gift has a corresponding obligation. Do we have the gift of health? Then, we are the strong who must help the weak. Did God give us a good mind? Then we need to develop our mental capacities to better our world. Did God give us the ability to be a good listener, to share the pain of others? We desperately need people with this gift.

So it is with Mary. Everything she had was a gift from God. She did not have an easier life. God “arrayed her in gold” only in heaven, not on earth. Her holiness tells us that she worked hard at developing her gifts. The Assumption is God’s way of rewarding her perseverance for responding to the Divine Word and being generous and kind to others.

Mary’s Assumption is also a promise that our bodies are destined for resurrection and life eternal. Heavenly happiness will be for her and for us a human happiness.

This feast is an opportunity for us to examine our relationship to our bodies. We need to make sure that they are part of our personalities. Our bodies are a personal expression of our unique selves. They manifest who we are with all their peculiarities and problems.

Bodies are good, not bad. Flesh is not evil. Sometimes in the Bible we get the impression that the flesh is evil and weak, but this is a misunderstanding.

Generally the word “flesh” in Scripture refers to the unredeemed person. When Paul contrasts flesh and spirit, he is opposing the life of the unredeemed with the life of the redeemed. The resurrection of Mary’s body and its consequent assumption into heaven is the Church’s affirmation that our bodies are good.

This feast is a time to restate not only the need for respect for the human body, but also for the wholeness of the human person.

“Holiness is wholeness,” says the great catechist and psychiatrist, Josef Goldbrunner.

We are always trying to split the human person into parts. This may be fine for analysis, but we need to see the human person as one whole unit.

To become more human, whole, holy, we must integrate our bodies into our spirituality. We must be sensuous. I distinguish sensuous from sensual. Sensual is primitive, instinctual, aggressive, possessive and domineering.

Sensuous is sensitive, responsive, open, available, feeling, inclusive, caring.

Mary was sensuous. She could hear God’s voice in a breeze, feel God’s love in Joseph’s embrace, smell God’s goodness in steaming bread. Like us Mary experienced pain and disappointment, simple joys and ecstatic moments, stillness and the busy noise of being the center of a family. Through all this, her flexible body completely expressed her purified soul. They were completely at one with each other, meant for each other for all eternity.

We will be united, body and soul, in God’s family forever. In Mary’s Assumption, we see how God saves us.

God saves people with bodies and souls. So bodies are to be respected. This demands that we take care of our bodies with enough sleep, exercise and healthy food. Mary’s Assumption is another proof of the love that God has for Mary and for all her children.

Mary’s Assumption, body and soul, shows us God’s love and respect for human life and human bodies. Let us have that same respect for ourselves and others.