The Preface for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin names her as the beginning and image of a Church whose destiny is, with her, to share the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection. As such she is “a sign of sure hope to a pilgrim people”.
Such hope shines through Revelation’s somewhat alarming description of a pregnant woman, about to give birth, threatened by a seven-headed dragon. The dragon was, at the very moment of new life, poised to consume its rich promise.
Beyond this imagery lay the reality of a persecuted Church. Faith had engendered new life in the waters of baptism. Strong though this hope had been at its birth, it was to face overwhelming waves of persecution. “The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations, and the child was taken up to God and his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert. Then I heard a voice from heaven. ‘Victory and power and empire have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.’ ”
The Book of Revelation breathes a faith that not even our darkest fears could ever overcome.
Christ had come into the world as a light that the darkness could not overcome. His resurrection had vanquished the darkness of calvary. Mary’s Assumption into heaven was the fulfilment of his resurrection in Mary’s redeemed humanity. This was the faith that had triumphed over the dragon.
St Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians, was uncompromising both in his assertion of Christ’s bodily resurrection and in the promise of our sharing in that resurrection. The hope that we hold in our hearts is rooted in our humanity, in all that feels and touches, that loves and is loved. Christ’s Resurrection, together with the Assumption of Mary his mother, is the promise that we also shall share his resurrection in the fullness of our humanity. Our darkness shall never triumph.
“Just as all men die in Adam, so all men are brought to life in Christ. Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, all those who belong to him.”
As we rejoice in Mary, blessed in her Son, let us acknowledge that we, unworthy though we be, are called to the same blessing, the same hope.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.”
Mary’s Assumption into heaven is indeed a promise of rich blessings.
This article first appeared in the latest edition of the Catholic Herald magazine (14/8/15).
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