“The sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and a great sign appeared.” These words from the Book of Revelation invite us to consider Mary’s Assumption as a glimpse into heaven. Here we are taken up into a vision that reaches beyond the here and now, that gives meaning and direction to every life and every generation.
The Assumption proclaims that Mary, the Mother of God, shares already the fullness of her Son’s redemption. Mary, the faithful servant, had rejoiced in the humanity entrusted to her. Within that humanity she had loved and responded, had given birth to Jesus and, with him, had faced pain and death. The love that had united Mary to her Son could never be broken in death. That bond had been forged in a faith open to God, in an Immaculate Conception that had transfigured the whole of humanity. What had been begun at the Annunciation was brought to its glorious conclusion in the Assumption as Mary shared the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection.
The vision of Revelation, with its alarming image of the woman and the dragon, represents the journey of faith. With Mary, we are called to respond to the Word made flesh. Our response can never be without conflict. The grip of sin, rooted in selfish hearts, does not surrender without a struggle.
In this struggle we are not alone. Christ, the first born from the dead, has already won the victory to which we are called. Our faith, like the Woman about to give birth, is threatened on every side. For the early Christians the threatening dragon was the persecution of the Roman Empire. In our own day the dragon takes on the form of dwindling faith, rampant materialism and the scandals that beset Church and society.
The vision that began with overwhelming threat was concluded in triumphant hope. The dragon could not vanquish the child born of the woman. The child born of her brought a sinful world into the presence of God. The call sown in our hearts cannot be frustrated: not because of our own strength, but because of the victory won in Christ. “Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.”
We identify Mary with the woman portrayed in the vision of Revelation. Her Assumption into heaven promises, in the words of St Paul, that we, in our proper order, shall one day share in the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection.
The Magnificat puts into words the confident faith summoned by Christ’s Resurrection and Mary’s Assumption. With Mary we proclaim the greatness of the Lord who has looked on the lowliness of unremarkable lives. Though we can find little strength within ourselves, we exalt in the Father who has done great things for us, calling us his children in Christ Jesus. Our hunger the Father has filled with Christ, the Bread of life.
With Mary we rejoice, not for ourselves, but because we have been chosen in Christ. Mindful of his mercy, the Lord kept faith with us. Whenever we are threatened, whenever faith falters, we are renewed in the God whose mercy is from age to age.
The feast of the Assumption reaches out to the Church and the whole world. The hope sown in our hearts is not deceptive. Mary’s Assumption into heaven, Body and Soul, is the promise of what we shall become in Christ.