Thursday, August 14, 2008
Assumption of Mary
The Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary on August 15th. This feast day recognizes Mary's passage, body and soul, into Heaven. Mary's assumption into Heaven was a divine gift much like her immaculate conception was a divine gift. The immaculate conception should not be confused with the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The immaculate conception refers to the divine gift Mary received being born free from original sin. Her birth differs from that of our Lord Jesus Christ in that her birth was not a virginal birth. I know I am getting off topic of the Assumption of Mary, but I think it is important to compare these two feast days. Since this is a day to reflect on the Assumption of Mary, I'd like to spend some time reflecting on the life of Mary.
Mary's immaculate conception is a topic of discussion among Christian denominations. The Catholic Church believes that Mary was born without original sin. Some argue that only Jesus, our Lord and savior, could be born without original sin. They say that if you argue that Mary must be free from sin, then wouldn't her mother and the mother before her be free from sin. The easy answer to that is No. God had and has a plan. He chose Mary specifically to be the mother of Jesus, the mother of God. Only she has that title. Jesus is the one we as Christians follow. God is who we worship. Mary is the mother we love and show much respect.
Mary's very life was a prayer to God. She is a model of how we should all live our lives and submit ourselves to God. One other thought that comes to my mind is God's constant reminder of the importance of a mother and a father. He brought his only son, Jesus Christ, into this world to suffer, die, and rise to save us and even He had earthly parents. I think about the courage of Joseph. Unfortunately, we don't know much about him but he had to be a very special man. I know of very few who would have reacted the same way as Joseph did at the news that Mary was carrying the life of our Lord in her womb. He did not run and he did not question. He was not free from sin, but this can be explained. Technically Joseph was not the father of Jesus, but he was a father figure. Joseph's role in the life of Jesus should never be overlooked, but Mary carried Jesus in her very womb. She is the only woman with this honor. This is why the Church has several feast days in recognition for Mary. She is the mother of God! No one can question that this very fact earns her much respect and admiration.
Some of our protestant brothers and sisters do not believe in the assumption of Mary because there is no historical evidence to suggest that this occurred. There is also no evidence to prove otherwise. The question of whether Mary died before she was assumed into heaven is an open question, but one that really is of little relevance as far as I'm concerned. She lived a sinless life, she is the mother of God and the Mother of the Church. She received divine gifts from God. Today we recognize Mary and celebrate her life.