Mary’s Assumption – Our Destiny
Fr Allan Moss OMI – In the resurrection of Jesus we see our resurrection. Mary’s assumption exemplifies our Christian destiny. She is the model of the Church on its journey with the Risen Lord. As we celebrate Mary’s glorious assumption into heaven, we celebrate she in whom Christ was incarnate and is with Christ glorified.
Mary’s life began on earth, like that of us all. In her story we see the story of God in our lives, if we will walk with him. In Mary, we see a young Jewish girl steeped in the traditions of her faith with an openness to the Holy Spirit.
Her courtship with Joseph is chaste and pure; that is why she asks how she can conceive. She accepts being chosen to be the mother of Christ and is married to Joseph, yet remains beate semper virgini. During her own pregnancy, she sets out to serve the pregnancy of another.
Having given birth to her son and raised him, she is his most faithful disciple, always there for him, from his birth till his death. And so the Catechism of the Church teaches that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Sons resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body (974).
Mary in the Church
We see Mary in the full tradition of the Church in terms of the four pillars of our faith – scripture, liturgy, doctrine and witness. From scripture, the Apocalypse portrays a woman adorned with the sun, an image of Mary, the perfect type of the Church. Is this the woman prophetic in Genesis, whose seed will crush the serpents head? Is this the woman Jesus is referring to when he addresses his mother as woman (John 2:4 and John 19:26)?
How often is Mary mentioned in the celebration of the Eucharist, for example in the creed and Eucharistic prayer? The opening prayer of the liturgy honouring the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary says: All powerful and ever-living God, you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory. Lex orandi, lex credendi.
The doctrine of the Church is expressed in our profession of faith. As we say the creed, Mary’s name is mentioned as the one who conceived and honoured as the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Church goes on to teach us that the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be the beginning and pattern of the Church. You would not allow decay to touch her body, for she had given birth to your Son, the Lord of life (preface to the Eucharistic Prayer).
Mary in our Service
The Church’s witness consists in imitating the Blessed Virgin in humbly being at the service of our Lord and of our neighbour. How often do we pray the Hail Mary with the richness, power and meaning of the words? If only we could be empty of self as she, so that God could fill us with grace. God has exalted the lowly (Lk 1:50). We ask her to pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death that we may be with her in heaven.
We travel far afield to visit the shrines of Our Lady. There is one not far from our family homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, called Ngome. Here, Sr Reinolda May, a Benedictine nun, said she saw Our Lady, surrounded by a bright light, dressed in white. Upon her breast was a big host, radiating life. It was as though she was a living monstrance. She called herself Tabernacle of the Most High, and that is the title of Our Lady at the shrine. Mary reminds us that like her, we are tabernacles, bringing Christ to the world.
Fr Allan Moss is the pastor of St Marys parish in Pietermaritzburg.