Today’s feast of the Assumption is rooted into the most extraordinary event in the history of this world: the Resurrection of Christ from the tomb before his bruised and disfigured body could be corrupted by death.
St. Paul points out that Jesus is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep; but also that all those who belong to Christ will follow him to share his destiny of glory.
However, the woman handpicked by God to give a human body to His Son, will be the first one to follow her Son into glory, yet without having to be subjected to the corruption of the flesh.
Death is the last enemy to be destroyed by Christ Jesus because it is the scariest and most tenacious consequence of our human frailty and sins. Corruption of our flesh is the most visible consequence of our sinfulness. Decay of our flesh in the tomb is the irrefutable proof that reliance on sin-prone human flesh will assuredly lead us to the temporary enslavement to corruption. This temporary enslavement to corruption as consequence of our sinning will last only until Christ extends the renovating power of his resurrection also to our flesh and we, who die in Christ, will be brought back to life. It is a life that will be endless and totally free of corruption.
But, since the body of Mary was preserved by God immaculate, totally sinless from her conception in the womb of her mother St. Anne, corruption could not claim her as one of its victims. The early Fathers of the Church referred to her passing, as “dormitio,” as falling peacefully asleep in her Son, the Lord Jesus, without the agony and the anxiety that accompany so many deaths.
Had we not sinned, we too would end our life with a peaceful “falling asleep” in our Lord Jesus and our body will be fully glorified. Alas, this is never the case. However, filled with hope, we gather to celebrate the fact that, one day, we will share in the destiny of glory enjoyed by Christ and the Blessed Mother.
This hope mitigates the knowledge that we will know first the corruption of the grave. But, in order to strengthen the hope that fills our hearts and minds on this solemn day, we must dwell on the scary reality of sin which rules our lives.
Not only, but, from time to time, we should also stop to assess the terrifying devastation that sin engenders in us and all around us, especially whenever we do not rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and the other means of grace available to us in the death and resurrection of Christ.
This is the terrifying struggle described in the vision of the woman and the fierce dragon of the from the Book of Revelation. (11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab)
The Church is wailing aloud in pain because she labors in giving birth to us, her offspring, in newness of life. Satan, who failed to devour Jesus, the Son of Mary, has easy picking with us.
Especially in these years of scandals, embarrassments, anguish and persecutions we should feel the pain of Mother Church and flee to Mother Mary so that we may do our very best to cooperate with God’s grace not only to avoid sinning but also to imitate her attitude and conduct.
Here is the sequence to incorruptibility and glory: Christ as the first fruits, Mary follows him logically because sinless; and we are meant to follow her. Now, if we follow, we are “followers,” we are disciples.
How? St. Paul gives us vital suggestions:
(1 Corinthians 6:19) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
(Romans 12:1) I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
This is the best and securest way for us to be followers of Christ and of Mary not only into glory but, before then, also in loving and serving our brothers and sisters by using our bodies precisely the way Jesus and Mary used theirs. For example, Mary traveled to the hill country in haste to help Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39)
May we, too, be always inspired to use our bodies on this earth to attend in haste and humility to the needs of our neighbor. This is how we can share in the victory of Christ over sin and corruption; this is how we can await with unwavering hope the glorification of our bodies to be like the ones of Jesus and Mary.