1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Assumption has rightly been called “Mary’s Easter”. It is the great icon of the glory and joy that awaits every person saved by Jesus Christ. Note that it is called the “Assumption” of Mary, not the “Ascension” of Mary. Jesus ascended (under his own power, for he is God). Mary, a creature and a beneficiary—the greatest beneficiary—of the grace of Christ, was assumed. Jesus went up to heaven, Mary was, so to speak, pulled up by him at the end of her earthly existence. The feast reminds us that Christ’s resurrection was not an end in itself. Jesus wasn’t raised just to prove God could raise the dead. He was raised so that we would be raised with him and live,not as disembodied spooks, but as fully human beings in the glory of God forever. Mary is the first of the redeemed creatures to enjoy this glory. And what she enjoys now, we shall enjoy one day. She completes the picture of redemption for us, for she is the one thing that Jesus can never be: a recipient of the saving grace of Christ. In her, we see what that grace looks like in a mere creature. In her, we see what we mere creatures shall one day share. Hail Mary! Full of grace!
Today, August 15th, the Catholic Church celebrates the assumption of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven upon the end of her Earthly life. (The Eastern Churches also celebrate this day, many of them calling it the “Dormition of Mary.”) One thing to note: the Catholic Church takes no position on whether or not she died before her assumption. (The wages of sin being death would imply that she did not die, given her sinless nature.)
This is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, although local dioceses may have lifted the requirement.
This is a symbol of what will happen to us upon the return of Jesus at the end of the world if we achieve the eternal rewards of Heaven. Our souls will be reunited with our bodies and we will enjoy Heaven as both a spiritual and a physical existence. Mary, granted a singular grace as a result of her Immaculate Conception and sinless life already enjoys what we hope to achieve.