”If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
~ John 14:3
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
~ Pope Pius XII – Nov. 1, 1950
God’s relationship with Our Lady is unique and beautiful. He created her pure, without the sin we all must bear, brought upon us by the mistakes of Adam and Eve. He blessed her with not only motherhood, but the birth of His own son, and subsequent motherhood to all of mankind. He asked of her the sacrifice of her son, His own son, that all the world may be free. And, at the end of her life, He looked on her with the ultimate of favor and took her, bodily, to Heaven to live with Him.
Mary herself was a very special person. She lived a sinless life. At a very young age, her God asked of her the greatest of devotions, to carry His child, mother Him and then sacrifice Him on behalf of the world. Could we make the same sacrifices?
Sometimes when we hear about the unique circumstances of Mary’s life, it is easy to just say “No.” I mean, God allowed her, and her alone, to be born without Original Sin! I know I instinctively think to myself “But it’s easy to live a sinless life when you get to start without sin!” And God fortifies her for His son, sending her angels to prepare the way. She raises Jesus and He goes out into the world to teach and bring us to the Father. At the end of Jesus’ life, I think “She had no choice! It’s not like God sat down with Mary and said ‘I’m thinking about killing our Son to save the rest of humanity’” and she got to buy in. He told her the plan, and she, His ever humble servant, accepted His greater plan for mankind.
“I couldn’t do that, God gave her all of the advantages, she was set up to be able to live that life…”
Except that He’s given us all the same help. Mary was born without sin, and while we must carry the sin of Adam when we are born, we are cleansed at baptism and it is washed from us. We get to begin a sinless life. Mary was able to live her life sinlessly; but we fail, over and over again. And we say to ourselves “Well, there goes the whole ‘sinless life’ thing.” Except God gives us the opportunity, through reconciliation, to cleanse ourselves again, every time we fall, to pick ourselves back up and begin again.
“There’s no way I could know if I am capable of what she did! God is never going to ask me to carry His child!”
Maybe He will (you never know what your Lord may ask), but maybe not. However, He will call you to serve him. Will you be ready to answer His call with a resounding “Yes, Lord” regardless of circumstance? Can you set aside your personal interests to say “Thy will be done”? His call may be something as large as Mary’s call, or as simple as a chat with a friend, or change in a collection tin. Every one of us is called to a life of service, just as Mary was, and we are called to humble ourselves as His servants and follow His call.
“What could the Lord ask of me that I could possibly show the kind of sacrifice Mary did when Jesus had to be given up to death?”
It is possible that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, will ask you for exactly what he asked of Mary, a child. Every day, men and women in our military are killed or injured defending us overseas, and each of their mothers joins Mary in the sisterhood of maternal sacrifice. It is also possible that He will ask for much smaller sacrifices. When we lose a job, a house, our health, a family member – when we encounter loss, failure, disaster – these are the sacrifices God asks of us. We must, as Mary did, accept that this is all part of his larger plan for mankind. Sometimes it is difficult to see how our being laid off furthers the good of man, but I can’t imagine it was easy for Mary to understand how the death of her son would help mankind. God, in His infinite wisdom, is working for the greater good, and we must trust Him.
Now, this is supposed to be a meditation on the Assumption of Mary, a discussion of the gift God gave her at the end of her life by bringing her directly to Heaven. Why am I examining her entire life? Because Mary is God’s example to us of the perfect mortal life.
God sent us His only begotten son to set an example for us, and to sacrifice Himself for us. But Jesus was God and Man in one, and he set a shining example of the concepts of a good life. Mary, His beloved mother, was just a woman, like you and I, and yet she lived a spotless life of service and sacrifice. She followed Him, answered His call and accepted His plan without question at every stage of her life.
The Assumption of Mary is God’s example to us of how He bestows His favor on those who serve him. When the Second Coming arrives, and when we are all called to judgment, those who served God in their lives and lived in the footsteps of Mary’s shining example will also be brought to Heaven to live with Him. Her son opened the gates to Heaven and God shone His light on her to give us an example of His love for those who serve Him and assumed her to His side.
The life of Mary is our example to follow. And the Assumption of Mary is the example of the favor God bestows on those who lead a life in her footsteps. And so each of us strives to climb the sloping sides of that golden dome atop of which she stands to stand beside her in the service of the Lord.
And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
~ The Magnificat (Canticle of Mary) – Luke 1:46-55