“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty, too, is your faith.” (1 Cor 15:13-14) Paul goes on to explain why the resurrection of the dead is constitutive of the Gospel. And so he refers to Jesus as “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Our resurrection is essentially linked to his. He is the first to be raised up. We will follow.
Because Jesus has been raised up, Mary was also destined for a bodily resurrection. But unlike us, Mary does not need to wait until the last day. Because of her unique role in salvation history, by a special grace she has already been raised up into the fullness of resurrected life. Mary’s glory is a foretaste of our glory. Christ’s resurrection leads the way, and we will follow, with Mary preceding us.
The ordinary makes up most of our lives and often the most important part of our lives. And most of our days are similar to Mary’s as she visits her cousin Elizabeth. They do not change the course of history, but they bind us together into a fabric of friendship, care and love. In other words, there really is no small matter because at the end of our lives it will likely be the ordinary daily happenings and encounters that determine who we are. Mary is our model, she shows us how to live our ordinary lives filled with angels and angst, surprises and routines. It is not always easy because we need to move beyond our own preoccupations and ask what action or response on my part can be a blessing for someone else?
We are called to follow Mary’s example - asking what people need and then acting on the answer we receive. As simple and ordinary as this pattern is, the result is often more than we can imagine. When we follow the pattern of the pregnant Mary, we not only bring ourselves to others. We also carry Christ who is within us to everyone we serve.
“Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside her salvific duty...By her maternal love she cares for the brethren of her son who still journey on earth.” (Lumen Gentium 62)
An icon written by Brother Terence, encirled with flowers and crabapples; photograped by Father Emmanuel. Excerpts from Dom Damian's homily for Assumption Day.