"Everyone dies. Not everyone lives." Mary, the Missionary.
It may be difficult to appreciate or understand what the assumption means, but one thing is clear. Mary shows us what it means to say “yes” to God’s invitation to participate in mission. Mary’s humble response as a young teenager to the strange proposal from the angel Gabriel, and her confident and joyful proclamation to her cousin Elizabeth that we hear in the Magnificat, demonstrate the true missionary spirit. Although we don’t know what Mary did after Pentecost, the Gospels tell us that Mary was not a missionary who went to other countries or was involved in public ministry. Rather, Mary carried out God’s mission through one of the most profound vocations. She was a mom and wife. As well, she was most likely a good relative and a good friend in the small village of Nazareth.
For most of us, we aren’t called to leave everything behind, pack our bags and head to Bangladesh or Bolivia. But each of us is called to mission. It happens when we are baptized. When we are baptized our sins are wiped clean to give us a new start and we are initiated into the Christian community. But this is not an individual or family affair. When we are baptized into the mission of Jesus. In other words, we get an invitation to participate in God’s mission; just like Mary did. And just like Mary, for most of us, that will be played out in our everyday lives; through the rhythm of routines, as well as the peaks and valleys of life, and through the relationships we encounter at home, at work,at school and in the community.
I saw a bumper sticker yesterday on a pickup truck that said, “Everyone dies. Not everyone lives.” I think this captures in some ways what is contained in that invitation to participate in God’s mission. If God is love, then God’s mission is about being aware of love, living in love and sharing love. If we accept the invitation from God we experience love and truly live as God hopes for us, as human being who are loved and loving. If we pass on the invitation and try to make it outside the reality of God’s love, I’m afraid our lives will be fraught with meaninglessness and perhaps despair, prone to cause hurt to ourselves and others.
To accept God’s invitation to participate in the mission of love is to be fully alive and to experience joy. It is the joy that Mary experienced all her life that didn’t end in her death, but continues now eternally with her assumption into heaven. Mary, as a mother, models for us what it means to say “yes” to God and experience the love that comes from God.