Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Revelation 19a.12:1-6a.10ab; I Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56)
Biblical scholar Fr. Raymond E. Brown, being concerned about ecumenical relations, tried to reassure his Protestant colleagues that Catholic traditions are not as unbiblical as detractors claim. Regarding Catholic teachings about Mary, he pointed out that what the Church professes of Mary, she generally envisions for all Christians. With this perspective we can say that although extraordinary, the dogma of Mary’s Assumption - body and soul - into heaven is essentially what most Christians believe is the ultimate destiny of all faithful followers of Christ. The reading from First Corinthians hints at a progression. It states that Christ was raised as the first fruits of redemption, then those who belong to Christ. The dogma of the Assumption interjects Mary in the “proper order” to which St. Paul alludes. She, the Church has declared, is raised after her son by reason of her exceptional life of grace and before all others.
The doctrine of the immortal soul has clouded appreciation of the resurrection of the body which we believe awaits us. Although the soul or life’s breath somehow has existence outside the body, it originates with the body and depends on the body for development. The body is not just a container for the soul as a pitcher for water so that any body might contain my soul as any pitcher can contain the same water. No, the body interacts with the soul such that it helps shape who I am. My height, weight, health, etc. contribute to how my soul sees, judges, and lives. When I die, my soul will yearn until the end of time for reunification with my body. The doctrine of the Assumption reassures us that this is bound to happen.