A while back, I had someone throw out the accusation that, “Mary is dead, you know!” It was a parting shot, designed to rankle me, and it worked.
It irked me, simply because Catholics do not maintain Mary didn’t die; instead, we believe she was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, upon her death.
Mary isn’t the only Biblical figure, aside from her Son, believed to have been assumed into Heaven. In Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.” Typically, it is interpreted that Enoch was here one moment, and raised to Heaven, body and all the next. 2 Kings 2:11 states, “As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” Again, common interpretation leads to the belief that Elijah was also assumed into Heaven, his body fully intact. Furthermore, Elijah and Moses both join Jesus at the Transfiguration – their bodies apparent to the followers accompanying Jesus.
As our family chaplain is fond of pointing out, if Mary had not been assumed into heaven, then where is, and what is considered to be, her final resting place? We have the final resting place for Jesus’ other followers – and, we have relics of theirs… their bodies or bones. There are even some who, centuries later, still have bodies fully intact, having not suffered decay – the Church refers to them as the “Incorruptibles.” Yet, for the mother of the Savior, there is nothing left!
And, Catholics know why …
Because Mary isn’t here on earth anymore!
Her body was assumed – taken into Heaven – whole, upon her earthly death. And, all Christians who recite the Apostles’ Creed, should appreciate the Catholic dogma of Mary’s Assumption.
As a refresher, let’s look at the Apostles’ Creed:
At the very end, Christians worldwide, praying the Apostles’ Creed maintain belief in,
the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
The belief that Mary has fulfilled the expectation should be motivation to all of us! It should be an example for all Christians – when we profess in the resurrection of our bodies and life after death, the belief in Mary’s assumption reminds us the virtue and goodness of living a life centered and focused solely on Christ, His teachings, and fidelity to God’s calling. It’s a reminder that someday, our bodies and souls will be united!
We aren’t saying we believe in the reincarnation! What Christians mean by the resurrection of our bodies and life after death can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. In verses 51-54, we are taught,
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised, imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled,
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
When our bodies are reunited with our souls, then we will be able to fully, completely join the living creatures referred to in Revelation 4:8, singing,
Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.
Until that time, the hope for all Christians is that our souls will be lifting that song long before our bodies undergo the change required to kneel before the perfection of God, our King.
Belief in Mary’s assumption is a non-negotiable for Catholics. Yet, all Christians strive for the resurrection of the body and life everlasting!
Having been the vessel which brought forth our Savior, and from infancy, taught Him to the ways of God, guided Him to accept His role in life (and, salvation’s history), gently pushed Him to begin His public ministry at the wedding of Cana, and was with Him every. last. painful. step of His Passion and Death, it should not be a difficult belief that she was given the honor of joining her Son, body and soul, upon her earthly death.
As such, it should not be a difficult belief to consider she has been granted the eternal life we, as Christians, profess to believe!
Just as Mary provided an example of living a life of yes to God during her time on earth, centuries later, she continues to be that shining example to us. She provides a loving, gentle reminder of the love of our God. Through belief in her assumption, she continues to remind us that with God, all things are possible. Mary continues to provide encouragement to live a Christ-centered life, reminding us of the closing components of the Apostles’ Creed,
The belief in the resurrection of the body, and life after death.
Therefore, today is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics. It is a day set aside to remind each of us of the promise of God, and to remind us of what we should have as our end goal – joining together, praising God in Heaven, for all eternity.
What an AWE-some belief to hold – believing there has already been one woman to have achieved the beautiful, amazing, ultimate promise by God!