“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” “Firstfruits” implies that there will be “second fruits” – and then even more. With Jesus, the Resurrection of the dead has become a reality, and because of Christ’s resurrection, we all have hope for our own. However, God was not content to simply have us wait. At the end of her life, the Virgin Mary also came to enjoy the blessing of the resurrection of the dead, and was assumed, body and soul, into heaven – to experience the same blessedness that we will enjoy at the end of time. She is our model; she is our hope.
I learned a new word in Spanish this week: “Bienaventurada.” I read it in reference to Mary and this very feast day. In English, there is no one word that adequately translates it, but in essence it means fortunate in a holy way, "super fortunate," or simply “blessed.”
This is what Elizabeth recognizes in Mary when she encounters her in the Gospel today. “Blessed are you among women!” she exclaims. And she is right; Mary is indeed blessed among women. She is the Mother of God – the first disciple of Jesus, even before He was born. Therefore, Mary is the model of all disciples and a model of the Church. Where she has gone we are called to go. As she is “bienaventurada,” so we are called to be “bienaventurados.” And how do we do that?
Mary gives us the answer. As Elizabeth recognizes how blessed and fortunate Mary is, Mary tells her (and us) how that blessedness comes to be. Her “Magnificat” reveals how the disciple should respond to God in their lives:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior….”
Instead of finding reasons to boast of our own greatness, of our own talent, of our own things, we are called to let everything about us point to God and the great things He has done for us. Without God we are nothing; without Him we have nothing to claim; without Him we are not saved or redeemed; and without God there is no eternal life. Mary is the one who directs us to see in God the source of our blessedness and to follow that source in all that we do.
This feast of the Assumption is a victory of the Virgin Mary, to be sure; however, above all, it is a victory for Jesus. We are truly fortunate when we realize this – through faith – and when we live our lives in a way that shows Christ to the world. Only then are we “bienaventurados.”
Just like Mary.