What Mary has experienced is essentially what has been promised to all of us: a resurrection of our bodies at the end of time and life in heaven in the presence of almighty God, body and soul together.
The idea of our future existence as a union of body & soul in heaven rather than just an immortal spirit is an important one for Christianity. It is something we say we believe each Sunday when we profess the Creed.
In a way, Mary can be taken as a role model for how to be a good disciple. In her life she says a radical ‘Yes’ to God, when invited through the Angel Gabriel to co-operate with His plan to save all people.
In any of the gospel stories Mary is to be found firmly focused on Jesus. ‘Do whatever He tells you,’ she recommends to those wanting more wine at the wedding feast of Cana. At the foot of the Cross, it is Mary who stays standing, filled with anguish at the sight of her dying son.
The Feast of the Assumption, then, is given to us not to glorify Mary as such but to provoke us into reflection: do we say ‘Yes’ to God in our lives, or is it more likely a mixture of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, depending on what suits at the time?
Can we really claim to be near Christ, and willing to stay near, when faced with difficulties and disappointments, confused or alone, in suffering and even death?
And do we really believe what we profess each Sunday Mass: that one day we too will be received body and soul into heaven?
Mary’s Assumption assures us of our dignity and our destiny as followers of the Lord. It is ‘a sign of sure hope and comfort’ (as the Preface puts it) of what will face each of us one day. It is also a challenge to live more radically the life of the genuine disciple.