Sometimes these inspirations and encouragements come from the saint of the day as in the earlier days of this month when the Church celebrated St. Dominic, St Clare, St. Maximillian Kolbe & St John Vianney. On on other feasts the reflections come from great teachers of the faith to help us to appreciate feasts such as the Transfiguration (last week) and today’s feast of the Assumption.
One of the daily reflections that I received by email this morning really caught my eye. It was headed up: “Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven, 15 August”. However in the couple of hundred words of reflection there was no mention of Mary, God, Heaven, body or soul. The content was encouraging, but it had nothing in particular to do with today’s feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven.
For a while this puzzled me. How could someone known for good, sound reflections, ‘miss the point’ of the feast.
I wonder if it is because the Feast of the Assumption (like the Feast of the Transfiguration last week) is beyond our normal routine experience of human existence. These feasts tell us about the complete reality of human life both here on earth and eternally in heaven. These events are accessible to human senses, and experienced by human hearts, in the heart of human reality.
So how can we put these realities into our limited human language
At this point I have every sympathy with the writer of today’s ‘missing the point’ reflection. If I am going to write about the significance of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven, what do I write?
The key point is that since the Church presents us this doctrine as a central reality of our faith, we cannot ignore it. We need to engage with the reality. We accept that there are many many things that are beyond our limited human grasp. And instead of being frustrated by this, we delight that there are some realities that, while unable to be comprehended by humans, are the fulfilment of our human desires.
On this feast we are focussed on the beauty of the life and ministry of the Virgin Mary. We are also drawn to the beauty and eternal life of heaven.
The years we spend on earth (“seventy or eighty for those who are strong” Psalm 90) are most often a time of anxiety and stress to say nothing of struggle and suffering. But we are created for much more than this. We are made for God, who has not only created us for eternal life and happiness, but who seeks to carry us through valleys and tears to divine life.
In the feast of the Assumption we celebrate the reality of Mary, body and soul, being carried by God into the fulness of the life she was created for.
This point is too essential to miss. Knowing that we too are invited to this divine life is the whole point of human existence. To miss this point, is to miss the whole point of life.