As we joyfully celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven, we can reflect on this great mystery in the Catholic Faith that showcases the deep love of God toward his creation. Her being taken to heaven body and soul is a foretaste of what God also has in store for us.
There are places that traditionally mark Mary’s Assumption both in Jerusalem and in Ephesus. From the Scriptures we do not learn about the end of Mary’s life or that of many of Christ’s apostles, but we do know through what has been passed on to us through tradition about the martyrdoms of many of them. Had Mary been a martyr, there would be a tomb and shrine associated with that location as there are for other apostles, but in the case of Mary, there is no tomb to be found. (There is a place in Jerusalem called the Tomb of Mary, but this spot commemorates her falling asleep and does not contain any bodily remains.) The end of Mary’s life was different than all others and gives the faithful hope of good things to come.
Interestingly, there are other instances in the Bible of people passing from this earthly life to the next in an atypical fashion. Besides Jesus, there are at least nine instances in the Bible of people being raised from the dead including Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, Widow of Zeraphath’s son, the Widow of Nain’s son and Tabitha. All of these people went through physical death.
However, there are two other unusual instances in the Old Testament, Enoch and Elijah, in which they were taken to heaven without dying first. In the first instance of Enoch, when he was 365 years old, the Bible tells us in Genesis 5:24 that “he was not, for God took him.” And then in the instance of Elijah the Prophet, at the end of his ministry, he was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot witnessed by the Prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 2:11. In both of these instances and also in the case of the Assumption of Mary, the person was faithful to God. Mary was more faithful to following God than any other created person, so is it any wonder that the end of her earthly life was rewarded by her assumption to heaven body and soul? She goes before us in Faith and also as a first fruit of the Resurrection, of which all the faithful will experience at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sign for us as to what is in store for those who stay faithful to her Son Jesus Christ. I hopefully look forward to that wonderful moment when I am able to experience the joy of the Resurrection and see firsthand the beautiful world where Mary, my Mother dwells, who has faithfully interceded for me and all her children since she entered the eternal kingdom, crowned Queen of Heaven.