His answer was to rise from the dead; and then, for forty days in the world's history, that supernatural life which he had preached to us flourished and functioned under the conditions of earth. A privileged few saw, with mortal eyes, the comings and goings of immortality, touched with their hands the impalpable.
In these words, Msgr. Knox describes the period in Christ's life from His resurrection to His glorification in the Ascension.
Christ overcame forever the manifestations of sin and death His resurrection. God, in His goodness, had created humankind in His own image and likeness; therefore, humankind is good.
The benefits of the Resurrection are being enjoyed by at least one human person at this time. Our Lady's Assumption reminds us of God's original plan: the gifts of our life and being have not been taken away because of the obscurities of life and death caused through sin. The gift of life and being was given originally at creation, and it was regiven insuperably in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
Since the Virgin is the mother of all believers, the Assumption teaches us that we, like her, are destined not for deep darkness and despair. Instead, we are intended for the glorified life of heaven in all eternity. We are able to see, through her, what God intends and is doing for all of us.
Within the context of the Assumption, our Lady's death must not be seen as just a passive happening. It instead becomes the model of hope and confidence in God's loving benevolence. Like Mary, then, we can reject sin, death and nothingness, and freely choose God and future life.
Like Jesus' resurrection, her going home to God implies the transformation of a body-person into an entirely new dimension of existence: human flesh is scheduled to be taken up and glorified eternally with Christ. It has been believed from the earliest Christian days that ''eternal glory'' is even now a possibility in the history of the world. The Assumption is nothing more than the completion of Mary's salvation by her Son. Redemption then was accomplished for, and is a glorification of, the whole person.
In this life we are God's children. It is more certain that we shall be God's children in the next life, even though we do not know the precise manner in which His will will be accomplished (See Jn 3:2, as well as Paul).
Consequently, heaven will have a transformative influence, and yet the faithful shall retain their personal identity in body and soul.
Not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up in life (2 Cor 5:4).
A continuity existed between Mary's earthly and heavenly life, in that Mary retained her own body-soul identity. Part of the fear associated with death is the fact that there is a loss of body that can never be regained. Everything depends on this fact: our own reality is transformed and not simply replaced by another.
Humankind's ultimate heavenly destiny will be a complete transformation from this world, not simply a replacement by another world. There is a radical connection between the present earthly and future heavenly life. The taking-up of our Lady's physical body verifies an indissoluble union between what is and what is to come. Therefore, consequently, the community of saints is a reality rather than just a symbol.
Mary's assumption, the expression of her being changed over in body and soul to a new order of existence, has a relevance like Christ's resurrection for Christian anthropology. The Virgin realized the fulfillment of her person in body and soul, a human person already living and enjoying this transformation into the fullness of her humanity. Mary was always open to union with God, always exposed to the self-gift of her humanity to divinity in nuptial giving.
St. Cyril of Alexandria insisted upon the hypostatic identity of Jesus with the pre-existent Logos. The Word became the Savior of humankind. Since his ''humanization'' came about through Mary, she then became inseparable from her Son's person and mission.
Since in Jesus there is no human hypostasis, and since a mother can be mother only of ''someone, not of something, Mary is indeed the mother of the incarnate Logos, the ''Mother of God.'' And since the deification of man takes place ''in Christ,'' she is also -- in a sense just as real a man's participation in Christ -- the mother of the whole body of the Church (Quoted in John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, p.165).
While Mary's life included difficulty and sorrow, it also included a determinative life without any inclusion of sin, with an open responsiveness to the will of the Lord. While Mary conceived the Lord in her fleshly womb and bore Him without sin, she ultimately knew Him through her bodily assumption into glorified life. Our Lady's going to heaven in her entire personhood would be a meaningless, even frustrating, source of humiliation, if it held no meaning as a universal transformation from the tragic, sinful, human condition.
Death is usually considered an unknown, definitive separation of matter and spirit from the earth, a consequence of sin. Yet the human person can yearn for transcendence, a translation into heavenly glory without the negative human concept of death.
As Jesus approached death, he transformed rather than destroyed bread: He changed it into His own person, given as a gift of self. Consequently, in consonance with the mystery of the Eucharist, the Assumption can be seen, not as a destruction followed by a new reality and identity, but rather as a transformation of continuity.
The Mystery of the Assumption teaches us that in Mary, the transfiguration of the Cosmos, the principle of which lies in the Resurrection of Christ, has already begun to produce its effects. The Assumption is the dawn of the New Creation, whose first rays filter through into the darkness of the world.
FATHER DUGGAN, who died March 7, 2007, was a graduate of the Jesuit School of Theology in the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Calif., and the Pontifical Marianum in union with its affiliate, the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton.