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Balthasar on the Assumption of Mary

A nice piece alongside Rahner’s:

How strange it all seems to us! We know nothing of the way the cosmos, of which our earth is a part, is related to a heaven that occupies no localized position. Is not God everywhere?…we wonder why it is important to attribute such an improbable privilege to the Mother of Jesus, to assert that her body does not belong to the dust from which it was made, like everyone else’s, but – as the old legends depict it – is supposed to have disappeared from its grave, to the amazement of the assembled disciples, leaving roses blooming on the sarcophagus. Let us press the point: we may be believing Christians, but we hardly know anything about the relationship between death and resurrection. It is a brutal fact that we have before us a dead body, and it must go into the earth or into the fire. Another fact, an uplifting one, is that the Christian lives in the hope of being kept safe in God’s hands after his death; but how, in concrete terms, can we envisage this?…

What, therefore, is the Church celebrating today? That a simple human body, inseparably united to its soul, is capable of being the perfect response to God’s challenge and of uttering the unreserved ‘Yes’ to his request. It is a single body – for everything in Christianity is always personal, concrete, particular – but at the same time it is a body that recapitulates all the faith and hope of Israel and of all men on earth. Consequently, when it is taken up into ultimate salvation, it contains the firm promise of salvation for all flesh that yearns for redemption. For all our bodies long to participate in our ultimate salvation by God: we do not want to appear before God as naked souls, ‘not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life’ (2 Cor 5:4); and God, who caused bodies to die, ‘subjecting creation to futility’, has subjected it ‘in hope’ that it ‘will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom 8:20f). So we are celebrating a feast of hope; but, like all the New Testament feasts, it is celebrated on the basis of a fulfillment that has already taken place.; that is, not only has the Son of God been resurrected bodily – which in view of his life and death, is quite natural – but also has the body that made him man, the earthly realm that proved ready to receive God and that remains inseparable from Christ’s body. Today we see that this earth was capable of carrying and bringing to birth the infinite fruit that had been implanted in her. Today we celebrate the ultimate affirmation and confirmation of the earth.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, You Crown the Year with Your Goodness: Sermons through the Liturgical Year, 186, 190-191.

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