Let us pick up again the subject proposed to us by the Church: Mary has gone to heaven in both body and soul, and the angels rejoice. I can imagine, too, the delight of St Joseph, her most chaste spouse, who awaited her in paradise. Yet what of us who remain on earth? Our faith tells us that here below, in our present life, we are pilgrims, wayfarers. Our lot is one of sacrifices, suffering and privations. Nonetheless, joy must mark the rhythm of our steps.
"Serve the Lord with joy" — there is no other way to serve him. "God loves a cheerful giver," the man who gives himself entirely with wholehearted sacrifice, because there is absolutely no reason to be disheartened.
We could think perhaps that this optimism is excessive. Are we not well acquainted with our shortcomings and failures? We are no strangers to suffering, tiredness, ingratitude, even hate. If we Christians are made of the same stuff as other men, how can we shake off the retinue of misery that constantly accompanies our human nature?
It would be naive to ignore the suffering and discouragement, the sadness and loneliness that meet us relentlessly as we go through life. But our faith has taught us with absolute certainty to see that life's disagreeable side is not due to blind fate, that the destiny of the creature is not to rid himself of his desires for happiness. Faith teaches us that everything around and in us is impregnated with divine purpose, that all things echo the call beckoning us to the house of our Father.
This supernatural understanding of earthly existence does not oversimplify the complexity of human life. Rather, it assures us that this complexity can be shot through with the love of God, that beyond the disagreeable surface can be discovered the strong and indestructible link that binds our life on earth with our definitive life in heaven.
The feast of the assumption of our Lady prompts us to acknowledge the basis for this joyful hope. Yes, we are still pilgrims, but our mother has gone on ahead, where she points to the reward of our efforts. She tells us that we can make it. And, if we are faithful, we will reach home. The blessed Virgin is not only our model, she is the help of Christians. And as we besiege her with our petitions — "Show that you are our Mother" — she cannot help but watch over her children with motherly care.