August 15/28, 2013
Mary’s tomb was presumably found in Jerusalem. Tradition tells us that she dies in the presence of all the Apostles, but that after her burial, her tomb, when opened, was found empty. Therefore, they concluded that her body had been taken up (assumed) into Heaven. This would be a logical conclusion since it would be inconceivable to think that the body of the Mother of God should decay in the grave.
The feast of the Dormition/Assumption of the Mother of God completes God’s work in Mary since it was not fitting that the flesh which had given life to God Himself should ever undergo corruption.
Mary was a model disciple completely open to God’s grace. The feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God celebrates the special place that Mary has in the life of the Church. This place is first of all defined by her being chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. This fact alone gives her a uniqueness which is shared by no other human being who has ever lived.
By her assumption into heaven after her death, we come to understand that Mary, because of the dignity of her motherhood and her own personal submission to God’s will at every stage of her life, takes precedence over all other human beings in the sharing of God’s glory which is the destiny of all of us who die united with Christ her Son.
Today’s celebration turns our eyes in that direction, where we will hopefully follow, if we have lived a good and righteous life, when our earthly life is over. In order to experience what Mary experienced, we must live as she lived; we must follow her example. In all things, we must submit ourselves completely to the will of God.
Mary chose, with the help of God’s grace, to preserve her God-given purity throughout her life. The bodily corruption of death was not God’s original plan. It came into the world through sin, as St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians: “the sting of death is sin.” So, it is fitting that she who knew no sin should not experience decay and corruption after death or delay in enjoying the first fruits of her Son’s work.
Mary was always at home with God’s word. She lived on God’s word. She was filled with God’s word and divine light. This is why she was so resplendent, so good, and so radiant with love and goodness. Mary was, in every way, what God had intended us to be from the very beginning.
The feast of the Dormition has always been loved dearly by the faithful of the Church. The feast is a sign to us that someday, through God’s grace and our efforts, we too may join the Blessed Mother in giving glory to God.
The feast of the Dormition and Assumption of the Mother of God should be a source of great hope for us, for it points the way for all followers of Christ who imitate Mary’s fidelity and submission to God’s will. Where Mary is now, we are meant eventually to be, and may hope to be through Divine grace.
Let us seek to imitate Mary’s self-sacrificing love, her indestructible faith and her perfect obedience. As with the case of Jesus’ resurrection, we need to look at the meaning of what the feast is about rather than being too literal in our understanding of how it is described. In other words, we do not need to know all the details of what or how it happened but rather that it did happen and what it means for us.
Mary’s greatness does not come solely from being chosen to be the Mother of God but in her total acceptance of that responsibility in faith and trust, accepting blindly all that it might entail. And, indeed, she had no idea the price she would have to pay to be the mother of Jesus. But she had emptied herself in total service to Him and now she is being raised to the highest place among the human race. Through her body, Mary said “Yes!” to God. Through her body, Mary was elevated to a place so high that no creature would ever be able to displace her.
Mary is a model for us all, and her assumption into Heaven is sign of hope for us as well. We now have a Mother who is in heaven; a mother who is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, who is also our mother. Jesus made her our mother when, while hanging on the Cross, He said to the disciple and to all of us: “Behold, you Mother!” Precisely because she is our mother and is now with God, she is very close to each and every one of us. She always hears us and listens to us and she always intercedes with her Son on our behalf.
On this feast day, let us thank the Lord God for the gift, example and life of the Virgin Mary, and let us pray to her to help us choose and follow the right path every day, to make the right choices, and to give ourselves over totally to God’s will every day. Today, we join Mary in her happiness. May we be found worthy of that same happiness in our own relationship with God.