Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the anniversary of the solemn teaching of the church that Mary did not die. Along with the ancient fathers of the church, we say simply that she fell asleep and was assumed body and soul into heaven. She could do that and didn’t have to go to purgatory on the way because she was full of grace and immaculate, free from all sin, so there was nothing to be purified in her. It is important because as she was free from evil she was free even from the evil of death, from which Jesus had freed her in his resurrection before she was even born. And this makes sense: this way our Saviour Jesus is not affected by evil because his mother was not infected by evil, and so we can receive a perfect saviour who can save us perfectly.
What is important is that this Salvation Jesus gives us is not just in spirit. There is a good reason that every Catholic church has a massive body of Jesus on the cross at its centre. It is because Jesus saves us totally: not just a soul but also our body. And this is important because this is what it means to be human. We are not just souls, spirits. Unlike the angels we are a unity of body and soul and so when God saves us He saves both our body and soul, he saves all of our humanity with which we will be reunited again after our death.
And so this Feast of the Assumption is a reminder to us of the importance of our body. In case we had any doubt it is not just Jesus’ body that God loves. Mary, a human being just like us, God loves her body and soul as well. We know this is true otherwise why would God reach down and bring her body and soul into heaven. This is very important for us to remember.
We can be tempted to think as long as I love got in my heart it doesn’t matter what happens with my body. This of course is not true as we are our body and soul. This is why when we ask God for forgiveness we don’t just do it in our heart. It doesn’t work because I am not just a heart I am also a body, and so when asking forgiveness both in my soul and in body, God heals me in my body and soul for the sims I have committed with my body and soul. This is the beauty of confession and the beauty of Christianity: go takes into full account my fullness as a human being, and is not some mere spiritual thing.
It is also a reminder to us that our bodies are a gift from God. All of us we struggle with that. For all of us our bodies are not always how we would like them to be be, or in the shape or the way it works, or what we can do and what we can’t or especially the pain or the sufferings we can have in our body in all it’s limits. But God loves our body as it is. We have nothing to prove to him about it. The only question for us is or if we ourselves love what God has given us and what he himself loves and cherishes and spends all his time taking care of. Do we respect our bodies? Do we take time to care for them and love them and receive them as a gift from God thanking him for them?
So maybe we can do this in this mass. As Jesus brings his own body to us so we can also bring our bodies to him asking him to heal us of all the wounds we may have towards the way we think about our body, thanking him for the gift of our body, and asking him to bring our hearts into the truth, that is to be able to see and love our bodies as God loves them, and to see all of the goodness and beauty which we are to others.