Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption. This feast reminds us that Mary shared in the fullness of resurrection. I think it is important for us to realize that Mary is the model disciple, which means that everything she received by baptism we receive. This mean that you and I will share in the fullness of resurrection and all of creation will. Feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson reminds us that Mary is truly our sister on our journey of faith. I believe this feast reminds us though that on this side of the reign of God there is only one way to resurrected life and that is through the cross. There is no Easter without going through Good Friday; we cannot go around it. Why do we believe that Mary was the first to share in the fullness of resurrection? I believe a piece of art known as the Pieta shows us why. She put both hands in; she entered with all of herself into the suffering of Christ so she also, by going that deep, entered fully into his resurrection. If you look at the Pieta you see Mary holding the body of her beloved son, Jesus, in loss and love. This has always reminded me of parents who have dealt with the terrible tragedy of losing a child. The Gospel of Luke reminds us that Mary’s heart will be pierced by a sword, which is another way of saying losing a child will break a parent’s heart. And no parent should ever have to bury a child.
The assumption reminds us of another point though, that in this life as disciples we are called to love in such a way that we put both hands in. In a secular age we can ignore our mortality, but, when we embrace it like Mary, we are saying a yes to discipleship, that life is stronger then death. This means that our call is to spend our lives in service to bringing life to things around us. I once heard an older priest say that he believes Jesus was not totally surprised by resurrection because he spent his life in service bringing new life to others. By our baptism we already participate in the resurrected life of Christ, and by dying to self or selfishness and bringing new life to others we bring resurrected life to those around us. As we gather around the altar for Eucharist, we are renewing that yes; bringing our death, heartbreaks, failures, recognizing our mortality and recommitting ourselves, in a sense going all in, putting both hands on the altar and professing our yes like our sister, Mary. We are joined at the table with our sister, Mary and all those who have gone before us who already share in the fullness of the reign of God. This communion of Saints gives us great courage and hope on our journey. I often feel the strength of those I have loved who have gone before us, and I am sure many of you have had a similar experience. As we gather for Eucharist, may we allow ourselves to experience that hope and strength, and put both hands in and receive once again the bread for the journey, recognizing that we will one day share fully in that reign of God and all of creation will as well.