Homily: “Loved Her Body and Soul”
by Fr. Mark-David Janus, C.S.P.
August 15, 2019

A homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Her baby was born pre-maturely, very much so;
Weighing just a handful of pounds
So sick was her baby girl she was in the Infant ICU
swaddled in tubes, electrodes, transfusions, drains;
Bandaged so that her mother could not hold her
For all the apparatus struggling to keep her alive.
Days became weeks and finally, her struggle over, she died.
The nurses detached and cleaned this blue bruised baby
And for the first time, this mother held her child.
She would not let her go, which is when they called me.
She would sing to her, play with her, coo at her,
Tell her stories of all she was going to do when she grew up
She kissed her, cuddled her close to her heart,
Did for hours what all mothers do with their living babies.
I sat and watched.

Moma handed me her purple rigid little corpse
“Pray she ordered, pray for her, pray good so God hears.”
When the prayers were said, she stood, took her child
Tucked her into bed and left.

She loved that child, loved her body and soul
And could not send her to God
Till she had the chance to love that little still body.

Sisters and brothers, this is how God loves us,
Body and soul.
God is not just in love with that inner secret part of us
God is not just in love with our soul
-as if it was separate from a disposable body.
God is in love with our body-inseparable from our soul.

And when that body wears out,
as Jesus’ body wore out on the cross,
that used body is transformed into a new Risen body
still us, but different, as Jesus’ risen body was really him,
but not as he was before.

Mary was loved by God, body and soul.
When she was assumed into heaven
And found her soul in a new risen body
Just like her son’s risen body
It was to give us hope, that what happened to her first,
Will happen to the rest of us, as St. Paul writes:
“For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be made alive, But, each in proper order: Christ as the first fruits, then all those who belong to Christ.”

The Assumption of Mary is to us a comfort
When we think of loved ones who have died;
a courage for us when we face our own death
that not even death stops God from loving us body and soul.

The Assumption of Mary is also a reminder
Since God loves us body and soul
That is how we are to love, body and soul.
“God has cast down the mighty,” Mary sings,
Has raised up the lowly,
Has filled the hungry with good things.”
Her son Jesus will teach us we cannot say we love someone
And not love their bodies:
Hungry, thirsty, naked, ill, imprisoned, lonely,
Despairing, sad, grieving, uneducated, confused
Even dying and deceased bodies.
We too must love body and soul
Our families surely, our loved ones, children, friends,
But also the stranger, the immigrant, our enemies,
The guilty and the innocent are to be loved body and soul
Because that is how God loves them;
Body and soul, just as God loves Mary,
Just how God loves you and me, body and soul. Amen.

Paulist Fr. Mark-David Janus is the president of Paulist Press.