“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for the almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.”
Mary’s Magnificat, a prayer of thanksgiving, gives us the scriptural context for our celebration of the Assumption. It is a prayer that exalts the unique graces granted to Mary as a foreshadowing of the redemption promised to sinful humanity as a whole. The God who had looked upon Mary, his lowly handmaid, is the same God who has filled the hungry with good things, who has come to the help of his people Israel, who is faithful to his promise.
The Resurrection of Jesus, at the very heart of our salvation, does not stand alone. It is the promise that our own salvation, brought to its fullness in Christ, shall be a sharing in his Resurrection. We were not born as disembodied spirits. We were born as flesh and blood. It therefore follows, if redemption is to be understood as the wholeness of all that we are, that such redemption must include our sharing in Christ’s Resurrection.
St Paul, countering misunderstandings that had arisen in Corinth, vigorously defended the Resurrection from the dead. For him death, the dissolution of the physical life that we have known, was not the inevitable outcome of a biological process. For Paul death was the consequence of sin, just as the restoration of that life in the Resurrection is a grace won by Christ.
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.”
Paul described Christ as the first fruits of the Resurrection because he understood Christ’s Resurrection not as a single, isolated event, but as an unfolding process.
“Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order.”
The Assumption that we celebrate today, Mary’s sharing in the fullness of her Son’s Resurrection, underlines Paul’s promise that each of us, in our proper order, are called to share in the same Resurrection.
Death is not the ultimate frustration of all that we are and long to become. In Mary’s Assumption the salvation for which we long has drawn closer. Ultimately our own Resurrection, like Mary’s Assumption, will be a demonstration of God’s enduring promise.
“For Christ must be King until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death.”
We, like the woman giving birth in the vision of revelation, must live out our faith in a threatening and sinful world. At the very moment that the promise of new life approached, the dragon threatened to consume the hope born of the woman. So it is with us. A sinful world is only too eager to extinguish at birth our hope for redemption. The vision, despite its threatening overtones, was concluded in triumph.
The child brought God’s kingdom into this world, triumphing over the power of evil. The woman escaped into the safety of God. This is the triumph that we celebrate in Mary’s Assumption.