The world seems locked on the TV these days as we watch the Olympics from Rio. We admire these young athletes for both their physical, athletic acumen, and their sense of focus and determination.
It’s the latter—focus and determination—that the competitors tell us is as important as muscle and agility.
They focus on the goal—a gold medal—and are determined to win each match to get there to that reward.
Earlier this week, on Monday, August 15, we celebrated the victory of a member of our own team—humanity—gaining, thanks to the merits of her son, Jesus, the ultimate gold medal: unity with God, body and soul, for all eternity. This is the meaning of the doctrine we call the Assumption of Mary.
My dietitian, an extraordinarily patient woman, tells me always to keep my eye on a goal: a certain weight, the ability to get into an old suit I had outgrown, or simply losing a 1/2 pound a week.
My orthopedic physician, who treats my knee and helps me postpone as long as I can the eventual replacement, gives me suggestions of physical therapy, and he, too, counsels me to set a target—like the ability to genuflect pain-free, rather important in my line of work!—and work towards it.
My long-suffering confessor every other week coaxes me to an attainable goal in counting on God’s grace and mercy to move on from one specific sin from the list I’ve confessed.
Seems so naturally helpful—to set a goal and get there with focus and determination.
The cosmic gold medal for all of us, the finish line chalked by our Creator, is union with Him for all eternity, body and soul, in heaven.
To help us get there, He has given us a model: the blessed Mother of Jesus. When her life on earth was complete, He brought her, body and soul, to heaven, to be with Him, and His Son (and her’s), by whose merits this contest had been won.
That’s the Assumption.
For the rest of us, at our death, we hope that, by the mercy of Jesus, our immortal soul will “passover” to God. Our bodies? We’ll have to wait for the end of the world, the Second Coming of Jesus, for heaven.
But, God our Father wanted one of us to reach the goal and get the gold so we don’t get discouraged—and that’s our Blessed Mother.
This feast—and this Monday’s, August 22, of Mary Our Queen—come at the very height of summer, when the harvest of tomatoes, melons, corn, cherries, and peaches are all available, to my dietitian’s chagrin! This is the purpose of creation, of nature: to be abundant in life!
And the goal of supernature? Heaven! Our own eventual “assumption.” “Where she has gone, we hope to go!”
We know, usually, that the soul is sacred, the dwelling of grace, which is Divine life.
The Assumption of Mary reminds us that the body is, too, a “temple of the Holy Spirit” as the Good Book teaches.
Body and soul are, in fact, so sacred to the Lord that He wants ours with Him forever in heaven, the cosmic harvest!
My hometown’s Catholic newspaper has on its masthead the “mission statement”: “helping people get to heaven.” Not bad! As our superintendent of schools, Dr. Timothy McNiff, observes, “The purpose of our schools is not just to get our students good jobs, but to get them to heaven!”
And when we’re tempted to doubt the mercy and grace of Jesus to help us reach that heavenly goal, we can cheer our iconic gold medalist, our Queen, assumed into heaven body and soul: Mary!
“O Mary, Our Queen,
Conceived without original sin,
And assumed into heaven body and soul,
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!”
A continued blessed summer!