August 15, 2019
Fr. Joseph Jacobi
The dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, into heaven was declared in 1950, but this great “Easter feast” had been observed ever since the 5th century in the Church. How fitting that the mother of the Crucified and Risen Jesus should share with her Son in his bodily glory in heaven. Mary has experienced the resurrection of the dead, and in this great Marian feast, we glimpse our destiny—where she has gone, we hope to follow.
So, Mary was lifted up into heavenly life as a complete person, body and soul. We, too, long to follow where she has led.
This is a very “bodily” feast, a grand celebration reminding us of the importance of the human body. We human beings are enfleshed spirits. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience, not physical beings having a spiritual experience. We learn about God and experience God’s tender, life-giving care in and through these bodies of ours. We learn in and through our 5 bodily senses. In fact, that great scholar of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, taught that the only way we learn is in and through our senses, in and through these bodies.
This grand feast of the importance of the human body makes me pity the angels. That’s right, I pity the angels. Because they are pure spirit, they will never experience the joy and delight of being human with bodies that revel in God’s goodness through our senses.
I pity the angels, because they have never tasted a homemade chocolate chip cookie or savored a cold drink on a hot summer day. I pity the angels, because they have never heard their name sound forth from the lips of a loved one nor heard the soaring beauty of a Mozart symphony. I pity the angels, because they have never seen a glorious Oklahoma sunset nor seen their child take his very first step. They have never felt snowflakes on their face nor the caress of a loved one. I pity the angels because they have never smelled bacon cooking.
In and through our bodies, we experience the beauty and delights of being human, of God’s care. In and through these bodies, we also love others and love God.
Mary loved her son, Jesus, in and through her body. She loved Jesus not in an abstract way, but in a very concrete way through her body.
Her body was the Ark of the New Covenant, containing and holding and protecting and nurturing the Son of God in her womb. She felt him growing in her womb, moving at times, kicking at times, and her body was intimately joined to his. For 9 months she carried in her body the One whom the whole universe could not contain.
Then she fed the newborn babe with milk from her very own body as he suckled at her breasts. Later she would feed him through the work of her hands, fixing thousands of meals for Jesus.
With her hands she would wipe the dirt from his face and the tears from his eyes and fix up a scraped knee or mashed finger from a hammer. (Joseph!) As a mother, she would shower her son with bodily affection— with countless hugs and kisses.
Mary held him tight when he decided to leave home and strike out on his own, and then had to let him go. Mary held the broken body of her son against her own body, as he was taken down from the cross and placed in her arms. Then she had to let him go as he was buried in the tomb.
In and through her body, Mary sings the praises of the God who has done great things for her. Who lifted her up to be the mother of His Son, and who lifted her up to share in his eternal glory.
Our destiny is to join Mary in enjoying the fullness of life, body and soul, in heaven. Our preparation to be loved in such a perfect way, is to give ourselves away in love of others through these bodies given to us by God.
For we love God our Maker and Creator not in an abstract, thinking about Him kind of way but in the very concrete actions of love expressed in and through these bodies.
These bodies of ours have become temples of the Holy Spirit by baptism. In these bodies, we are joined intimately to the Risen Lord as we eat His body and drink His blood in Holy Communion.
With the Blessed Virgin Mary, we sing the praises of God who has done great things for us. With our Mother in faith, we sing the praises of God who one day will lift us up body and soul to share in the fullness of life in heaven.