The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary affirms something very important, not only about the dignity and destiny of Mary but about the dignity and future destiny of every human being. Her Assumption reminds us that God’s infinite desire is that we be with him for all eternity. Jesus himself explicitly revealed this desire when he prayed: “Father, I want those you have given me to be where I am.” Jn 17:24 This is the God who loves our company.
Mary’s glorification in body and soul is a sign that every aspect of our lives is important to God and is touched by God’s saving Spirit. The salvation Jesus offers us is not just about our souls getting to heaven in the future but about our whole multi-dimensional existence being sanctified in the present in a way that leads to a future fulfillment. Our entire existence has already been touched by the redemptive love of Christ in the present, as we await its future fulfillment.
The Assumption proclaims loud and clear the amazing inheritance that is ours as sons and daughters of God. An inheritance that is enjoyed by us already in the present but awaits a future fulfillment preserved and reserved for us by God. By our Baptism, we have all received “confirmed reservations.” Such a confirmation does not deny any of our real present-day responsibilities and challenges. Human dignity is ‘assumed’ and lifted closer towards its future in company with Mary in whose life the seeds of her Son’s resurrection have fully blossomed. Thus, Mary is a profound symbol of hope and healing for body and soul in our very broken world.
Mary’s Assumption urges us never to forget the destiny of the journey we are on together. And it functions as a window into the beauty in which we see our entire existence transfigured and radiant with God’s glory. The Assumption is an inspiration for us to protect and defend human dignity, especially for those whose futures are being threatened through violence or neglect. In every age and time, there are dark forces that try to reduce the dignity of the human person. The Assumption of Mary holds before us the awesome truth of what the Gospel teaches and the awesome dignity to which God has raised humanity.
Fra Angelico, The Dormition and the Assumption of the Virgin, 1424-1434, (detail.) Tempera with oil glazes and gold on panel. The Gardner Museum. Excerpts from Abbot Damian's homily for Assumption Day.