Saturday, August 14, 2010

“Lord, go up to the place of your rest, You and the Ark of Your holiness”: No “escape hatch” from life or “Eat, Pray, Love” evasion but heavenly glory

... faithfully upward with Mary in Christ for our place in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Is life like a plane full of obnoxious and ungrateful passengers from whom we must escape by pulling the emergency door and sliding down the inflatable chute in an irresponsible crash landing with two beers in hand? No, this response does not end our problems but simply creates more as we face the consequences of a rash and ill-considered impulse. Are our life and family problems dealt with best by “eating, praying and loving” our way through exotic locations around the world, in order to sample other people’s lives as though we can “shop” for answers? When the vacation is over we still have to go home and work to pay our debts and take care of our families.

Through Mary, the Mother of God whom our Lord has given to us with His dying words on the Cross, we see an answer to this and other questions about our lives, our problems and sorrows, and the way through the world and all it holds to the place of promise where all our dreams are more than fulfilled. Mary’s glorious assumption, body and soul into heaven, is God’s reward for her faithful love through the sorrows, disappointments, tragedies and sins of this world.

Mary had many problems from which she certainly must have been tempted to escape, as a believing Jew found with child before marriage in violation of the moral teachings of her people, an engaged girl faced with the possibility of divorce before she was able to even begin her married life, a Son who was so unusual as to be unique in all of history: the God-Man, whose Father would call Him to give His life in a bloody and ignominious death on a Cross. These were just some of the sorrows that Mary bore in faithfulness to her vocation and to the God who had called her to this way of life.

Despite her human preferences Mary carried and bore the Son of God though he was conceived not by man but by God in a manner hardly to be believed even by her devout family and community. Despite her fears, Mary accompanied her Son and supported Him according to her abilities throughout his public mission. Finally, in the most abhorrent violation of the wishes and desires of a loving mother, she had to watch him destroyed violently on the Cross, the blood he drew from her own virginal body draining away from His broken Flesh on the Cross.

No mother can be expected to face such a violation of the life-giving vocation of motherhood without questioning, perhaps in anger, the ways and will of God. How strange, that the death of God has been the only death in all of history directly willed by Himself? And Mary was the one whom God chose to bear the holy Victim Who, only by dying, could destroy the death of mankind lost by sin and, by rising, restore the life of every human being from the beginning to the end of the world?

Each one of us must bear our crosses, those sorrows and heavy burdens that are part of the vocation to which God has called us. And all of us must learn as Mary did, with her example before us, to face the sorrows and evils that disfigure humanity and make people question the existence of a loving God, to ”eat, pray and love” not in escape from the people and commitments of our vocations but, rather, as faithful disciples and lovers of God. There is no “escape hatch” from life, and the “passengers” on the journey around us, who sometimes tempt us to disgust because they are Christ in distressing disguise, have been given to help us on our call to salvation, and we to them. Let us not forget that our first concern must be our personal sins, which disfigure the image of God in each of us!

At the end of her earthly life, after remaining faithful to God’s call through the outrages of sin and evil in this world, Mary was crowned with the gift of God’s eternal life and love by being “assumed”, that is taken up and received by God our heavenly Father, into the Kingdom of Heaven. Where Mary has gone, there we also hope to follow. Who would not want such a mother, who herself helps to make room for us in the "place of God's glory", our heavenly inheritance as the children of the "Ark of God's holiness", the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

-- ((((..))))

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