The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 45; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56
Do you consider the human body fundamentally good or bad?
Were you taught that your body was “dirty”, somehow not clean or pure? Or were you the fat or scrawny kid who was made fun of by others?
It is not interesting that we have referred to sexual sins which directly involve our bodies as “sins of impurity”? Why does our culture use the human body and sex to sell us all sorts of products? How has such advertising influenced your view of the human body? Bad or good?
Or is the human body neutral, in that it just houses the soul which is spiritual and therefore more important while the body, being physical, is less important?
The Assumption challenges us to reflect on our attitudes toward the human body because at the heart of today’s feast is the human body. The Catholic Church declaring that Mary at her death was taken up body and soul into heaven.
How do our cultural and secular ideas, which many of us without reflection have appropriated, or what we were taught as a child about our bodies relate with the Catholic Church’s embrace of the human body as sacred and holy? And note in this teaching about Mary and about us there are no distinctions about size, shape or body type, or what are accepted or culturally rejected ideas of beauty.
Though advertisers, fashion magazines and catwalks offer, particularly to women, an extreme look, body type and idea of beauty; the Church counters that on this Solemnity of the Assumption with the images of three pregnant women: a mythological cosmic woman about to give birth, Mary of Nazareth who has just conceived and her cousin Elizabeth entering her third trimester. Instead of a catwalk we are asked to contemplate the experience of the nine months of pregnancy culminating in the birth of a child which must be considered one of the most earthy and bodily occurrences in human life. The Assumption of the Virgin teaches us that God created in us nothing that is irrelevant but that our entire being including our body, glorified, will somehow be taken up into the life of the eternal Trinity. The physical and the spiritual are not in opposition to each other, rather each lead back to the other for both are holy and good.
What do you see as implications of this teaching for how we treat our bodies in life and in death; in regard to issues surrounding human sexuality and how we treat each other?