Joy of the Gospel

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

The relationship we have with our body is, well, complicated. From the earliest moments of life it determines who we are and how we do things. In fact, all we do in life we do with our body. Our body makes us somebody.

We fight with it, we hate it, then we kiss and make up and love it again, we care for it and nurse it, it embarrasses us and we return the favour, other times it makes us proud and we achieve wonderful things through it. We stop and start over again at the different places in life’s journey. Our body is ours to have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. But not till death do us part, because we take this body beyond this life. Ever thought of that?

Yes, because God made us with this body of ours and it defines us to the extent that we relate not only to ourselves and others through this body, but to God as well. And with this very body I will relate to God in eternity. Well, sort of. Because it will be glorified, become like Jesus’ body after his resurrection. Something like that. Paul writes a lot about it in some of his letters, especially to the Corinthians when he teaches about the resurrection. But in one of his earliest ones he wrote, “May the God who gives us peace make you completely his, and keep your whole being, spirit, soul, and body, free from all fault, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Beautiful, hey? Especially seeing how we sometimes mistreat our body and even that of others, even those closest to us. Or take it for granted.

The Assumption of our Mother into heaven is a feast of many things, but the one thing that stands out for me, is its celebration of the body. For she was assumed body and soul into heaven. The very body that gave God a body when God became human! Think of it, with her body and all into heaven. Following her son, who so ascended into heaven. After all, it’s what he promised when he said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). Elsewhere he said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Beautiful beyond imagination! That we will be with him, where he is. This feast is this promise fulfilled before our very eyes. No wonder the opening prayer at mass asks God that the same may happen to us and our body, please and amen.

Psalm 16 has a beautiful response to this and with Mother Mary I pray it again and again: “And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”