“Henri Nouwen, I think, felt a profound connection to Mary’s simplicity and humanity. In one of his journals, he describes meeting a priest who summed up Mary’s meaning to the world so beautifully. ‘To look at Mary,’ this priest said, ‘is to see God’s original plan for humanity.’ As Nouwen explained, ‘In her, we see the way God wanted us to be…Mary shows us how to receive the marvelous gift of God’s love, and how to respond to God’s redemptive action in our lives.’
Looked at that way, I think the Assumption takes on an even deeper meaning.
If Mary does indeed show us ‘God’s original plan for humanity,’ so does her glorious Assumption. In the Assumption, preserved forever before the face of God, freed from the corruption of the grave, Mary not only fulfills her great destiny – but also offers us a beautiful glimpse of our own. This is what God wants for us. This is what He dreams for us. This is His desire and design for the world.
The Assumption offers us that promise – and that hope.
Our prayer on the eve of this feast is to be worthy of it, to model ourselves on the Mother of God – in all her holiness, in all her humility. It means saying ‘Yes’ to God and working, as Jesus said, ‘to hear the word of God and observe it.’ That means, very simply, to live it. To embrace it. To desire, like Mary, to bring the Word into the world.
It has nothing to do with biology, or DNA.
It is everything to do with trust. With love. With obedience.
And, as I said before, it is all a matter of faith.
As Henri Nouwen once put it so beautifully: ‘A faith in him who became flesh in her, a faith that makes it possible for him to become flesh in us, too.’”
Image: “Assumption of the Virgin” by Francesco Botticini, c. 1475-76
The National Gallery, London