The Assumption of Mary

15th August, 2019

REFLECTION on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary

by Diane Bergant CSA

In the Western church this feast celebrates the assumption of Mary into heaven; in the East it commemorates her dormition or her falling asleep. The readings invite us to reflect on the role that she plays in the mystery of our redemption. Whatever we honour in Mary in some way points to her son.

Over the centuries devotion to Mary has been expressed in forms taken from the culture out of which it developed. Sometimes she is pictured as a humble peasant girl. At other times she is depicted as a queen robed in gold of Ophir who rules from heaven. Probably the most familiar pose is that of a mother with her child. Perhaps the most dramatic of these themes is that of the celestial woman from the vision found in the Book of Revelation. It is because of the cosmic significance of Jesus that this tradition has been applied to Mary.

Though the first reading depicts a cosmic woman, the gospel reading characterises Mary as a simple peasant woman intent on offering service to another. However, the words that are placed in her mouth are words of prophetic challenge. She announces the great reversals of God’s good news. The greatness of Mary is a reflection of the greatness of the Son of God whom she bore. He was the first fruits of salvation. He was the victor who won the kingdom. Her part in this victory was to bring him to birth and into maturity.

Dianne Bergant CSA was a Professor of Biblical Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where she taught from 1978 to 2014. She holds a BS in Elementary Education from Marian College, Fond du Lac, WI; an MA and PhD in Biblical Languages and Literature from St Louis University. Amongst other things, she served as President of Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001) and has been awarded honorary doctorates from several other universities. She was an active member of the Chicago Catholic/Jewish Scholars Dialogue (1988-2017) and sat on the editorial boards of The Bible Today (1979-2005), Biblical Theology Bulletin (1990-2014), Catholic Biblical Quarterly (1992-2001), New Theology Review (1997-2003), Teaching Theology and Religion (2003-2005), and Chicago Studies (2003-2009). She has taught and lectured in many places in the United States and abroad and has written numerous books, articles and chapters in books.

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash