15 August 2021

Getting there before you get there

Assumption of the BVM

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP


Imagine your boss has asked you to go to Starlight, PA from NOLA. It's a business trip. You decide to drive. That's a 20hr trip. Now imagine that you've accepted this assignment and made the decision to drive w/o being absolutely sure that Starlight, PA even exists. Your boss shows you postcards from Starlight; a Map Quest plan for the quickest route; and even some satellite imagery of the town from Google. All good evidence that Starlight is a real town, but you're still skeptical. Your boss bears witness to visiting the town 30yrs ago. Farming community. Friendly people. Beautiful scenery. But that was three decades ago, you say! Finally, fed up with your skepticism, your boss yells, “Go or don't go! What more proof do you need that Starlight is real?!” You ponder this question for a moment and respond, “It would nice if I could go there before I go there. . .just to be sure.” Your boss turns purple with rage; and you start packing for the trip, taking it on faith that Starlight awaits you at the end of your 20hr drive. The Assumption of the BVM is God's way of taking us to our final destination before we arrive at our final destination.

How much easier would your Christian life be if you knew that the resurrection of the body were real? I mean, how much easier would it be to suffer well; to pray and sacrifice; to do good works and bear witness; to follow the Commandments and grow in holiness if you knew that God's promise of resurrection had already been fulfilled? AND that we know that another human person has been assumed into heaven? It's not just a theory. It's a reality. The BVM was taken up – body and soul – into heaven. Her assumption is our sign that the Christian lives we lead take us to our promised end. Paul lays it out for the Corinthians: “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.” Christ was the first to be resurrected. His resurrection couldn't be the reassuring sign we need b/c he was a divine person – fully human, fully divine. We need to know that a human person can and will be taken up, body and soul. A human person who belonged to Christ, one who did not share in Adam's sin but died as we all do. That human person was the BVM.

How does knowing the BVM was assumed into heaven make our Christian lives easier? Well, maybe “easier” is the right word. Maybe “hopeful” is better. How does knowing the BVM was assumed into heaven make our Christian lives hopeful? Christian hope isn't about luck or chance, crossing our fingers and wishing on a star. Christian hope is about knowing and trusting in God's promises. Hope sustains. Hope strengthens. Hope tempers. And, as BXVI, teaches us, Spe salvi. Hope saves. Abiding in hope, we confidently move through every second, minute, hour, and day, day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year, we move toward our supernatural end, our promised conclusion. Without the Assumption of the BVM, we would take God's promises on faith, trusting Him that all we endure as Christians will bring us home. But with the Assumption of the BVM, we can add the reassuring knowledge of hope to our faith, reinforcing our trust with convinced expectation. There is no need for speculation about our end. It's not a matter for opinion or guesswork. It's a matter of abiding in Christ, living in hope. It's just a matter of time: “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order. . .”

Our challenge then is keep our hearts and minds sharply, intensely focused on our promised end, enduring whatever hardship comes our way; rejoicing when we gratefully receive a blessing; bearing witness to Christ's mercy; loving and forgiving as we are loved and forgiven; steeping ourselves in prayer and good works; and knowing – knowing – that our Blessed Mother stands before the throne of the Father interceding for us. This challenge – being fully, joyfully Christian in a hostile world – will one day end for you and for me. However, living in hope now, our life in Christ will never end.

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