As the new Eve, seated beside Christ, the new Adam, Mary is the first
human creature to enjoy the glory of heaven promised to all the elect
"Mary entered into glory because she welcomed the Son of God in
her virginal womb and in her heart. By looking at her, the Christian
learns to discover the value of his own body and to guard it as a temple
of God, in expectation of the resurrection", the Holy Father said
at the General Audience of Wednesday, 9 July, as he reflected on Mary's
Assumption in the Tradition of the Church. Here is a translation of his
catechesis, which was the 55th in the series on the Blessed Mother and
was given in Italian.
1. The Church's constant and unanimous Tradition shows how Mary's
Assumption is part of the divine plan and is rooted in her unique
sharing in the mission of her Son. In the first millennium sacred
authors had already spoken in this way.
Testimonies, not yet fully developed, can be found in St Ambrose, St
Epiphanius and Timothy of Jerusalem. St Germanus I of Constantinople (d.
730) puts these words on Jesus' lips as he prepares to take his Mother
to heaven: "You must be where I am, Mother inseparable from your
Son..." (Horn. 3 in Dormitionem, PG 98, 360).
In addition, the same ecclesial Tradition sees the fundamental reason
for the Assumption in the divine motherhood.
We find an interesting trace of this conviction in a fifth-century
apocryphal account attributed to Pseudo-Melito. The author imagines
Christ questioning Peter and the Apostles on the destiny Mary deserved,
and this is the reply he received: "Lord, you chose this handmaid
of yours to become an immaculate dwelling place for you.... Thus it
seemed right to us, your servants, that just as you reign in glory after
conquering death, so you should raise your Mother's body and take her
rejoicing with you to heaven" (Transitus Marine, 16,
PG 5, 1238). It can therefore be said that the divine motherhood,
which made Mary's body the immaculate dwelling place of the Lord, was
the basis of her glorious destiny.
Absence of original sin calls for her full glorification
2. St Germanus maintains in a richly poetic text that it is Jesus'
affection for his Mother which requires Mary to be united with her
divine Son in heaven: "Just as a child seeks and desires its
mother's presence and a mother delights in her child's company, it was
fitting that you, whose motherly love for your Son and God leaves no
room for doubt, should return to him. And was it not right, in any case,
that this God who had a truly filial love for you, should take you into
his company?" (Horn. 1 in Dormitionem, PG 98,
347). In another text, the venerable author combines the private aspect
of the relationship between Christ and Mary with the saving dimension of
her motherhood, maintaining that "the mother of life should share
the dwelling place of Life" (ibid., PG 98, 348).
3. According to some of the Church Fathers, another argument for the
privilege of the Assumption is taken from Mary's sharing m the work of
Redemption. St John Damascene underscores the relationship between her
participation in the Passion and her glorious destiny: "It was
right that she who had seen her Son on the Cross and received the sword
of sorrow in the depths of her heart ... should behold this Son seated
at the right hand of the Father" (Horn. 2, PG 96,
741). In the light of the paschal mystery, it appears particularly clear
that the Mother should also be glorified with her Son after death.
The Second Vatican Council, recalling the mystery of the Assumption
in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, draws attention to the
privilege of the Immaculate Conception: precisely because she was
"preserved free from all stain of original sin" (Lumen
gentium, n. 59), Mary could not remain like other human
beings in the state of death until the end of the world. The absence of
original sin and her perfect holiness from the very first moment of her
existence required the full glorification of the body and soul of the
Mother of God.
4. Looking at the mystery of the Blessed Virgin's Assumption, we can
understand the plan of divine Providence plan for humanity: after
Christ, the Incarnate Word, Mary is the first human being to achieve the
eschatological ideal, anticipating the fullness of happiness promised to
the elect through the resurrection of the body.
In the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin we can also see the divine
will to advance woman.
In a way analogous to what happened at the beginning of the human
race and of salvation history, in God's plan the eschatological ideal
was not to be revealed in an individual, but in a couple. Thus in
heavenly glory, beside the risen Christ there is a woman who has been
raised up, Mary: the new Adam and the new Eve, the first-fruits of the
general resurrection of the bodies of all humanity.
The eschatological conditions of Christ and Mary should not, of
course, be put on the same level. Mary, the new Eve, received from
Christ, the new Adam, the fullness of grace and heavenly glory, having
been raised through the Holy Spirit by the sovereign power of the Son.
The Assumption shows the value of the human body
5. Despite their brevity, these notes enable us to show clearly that
Mary's Assumption reveals the nobility and dignity of the human body.
In the face of the profanation and debasement to which modern society
frequently subjects the female body, the mystery of the Assumption
proclaims the supernatural destiny and dignity of every human body,
called by the Lord to become an instrument of holiness and to share in
Mary entered into glory because she welcomed the Son of God in her
virginal womb and in her heart. By looking at her, the Christian learns
to discover the value of his own body and to guard it as a temple of
God, in expectation of the resurrection.
The Assumption, a privilege granted to the Mother of God, thus has
immense value for the life and destiny of humanity.