Friday, August 15, 2014

The Assumption

Mary’s greatest joy comes from the knowledge that the all-powerful God delights in her “nothingness”, because he has found in her a human space and disposition where he can make himself at home and work unhampered. In Mary, every human faculty and desire responds with perfect harmony to the desires and expectations of the Creator.  This is dynamic sanctity, which overturns every convention and tradition and value-system of human society.  After Mary, only those will be called “blessed” who are poor in spirit and courageous enough to allow God to be everything in them. In Mary, God has proved that such a thing is possible, and from now on every child born of woman will be judged by the standard that the very human Mary has set.  Mary is said to have been “taken up into heavenly glory”, because she made herself fully malleable in God’s hands; and this being-taken-up by another, this “assumption”, swept up both her body and her soul, because she had held nothing back, because she had offered her whole being to God’s work and transforming activity.  From now on, the shape of every human life will either be Marian or it will have failed in fullness of humanity.

God wants the whole of us, body and soul, for himself.  He created our whole being and he wants our whole being back for his own delight and for our complete glorification.  It is impossible to talk about Mary’s ultimate transformation in glory without, at the same time, talking about the same vocation and destiny for ourselves. Mary’s Assumption opens the way for the glorification, along with her, of every member of the human race.  In isolation from us, the mystery of Mary really makes no sense. Can you imagine a church, or a world, in which, out of all human beings, only Mary has been saved?  Impossible!  No mother can be happy without her children!  In the same way that “Christ has been raised from the dead, as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”, so too Mary enters into divine glory right next after Christ, even while human history still continues; but she does so only as a trailblazing anticipation of our own assumption into heavenly life and bliss.  First, the Son; then, the Mother; finally, “at his coming, those who belong to Christ”, all those who have come to fullness of life in the divine Son as a result of the earthly Mother’s obedient love; “each one in proper order”, as St. Paul says.

Tintoretto, The Assumption of the Virgin , 1582-97, oil on canvas, Scuola di San Rocco, Venice. Reflection by Father Simeon.