By Christopher Wells
“The Church today invites us to contemplate” the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven. That was the message of Pope Francis at the Angelus on Wednesday. This mystery, he said, “shows us that God wills to save the whole human person: body and soul.”
For the Solemnity of the Assumption, the Holy Father explained that, at the end of her life, Mary was taken “body and soul” into heaven; her body “did not know the corruption of the grave.” This, he said, was a special privilege granted to the Mother of God on account of her unique corporal and spiritual union with her Son, Jesus.
This privilege, he continued, “gives us the confirmation of our own glorious destiny.” In the past, philosophers had understood the value of the human soul, and that it was destined to happiness. But they could not conceive that the body, too was destined for heavenly beatitude in union with the soul. This is the Christian doctrine of the “resurrection of the body,” which Pope Francis described as “an element proper to Christian revelation [and] a pivotal element of our faith.”
But the Assumption, while reminding us of the unity of the human person, also reminds us “that we are called to serve and glorify God with our whole being,” body and soul. “Serving God only with the body would be an act of a slave,” the Pope said; while “serving Him only with the soul would be in contrast with our human nature.”
Pope Francis concluded his reflection with words of encouragement: “If we have lived in this way, in the joyful service of God, which is expressed also in generous service to our brothers and sisters, our destiny, on the day of the resurrection, will be like that of our heavenly Mother. It will be given to us, then, to realize fully the exhortation of Saint Paul: ‘Glorify God in your body!’ and we will glorify him forever in heaven.”