There's another lesson, though, we might draw from Mary's Assumption, one relevant to present debates about gender and the Church. The Assumption reminds us that gender isn't an ephemeral, superficial part of who we are. It is integral. Even after experiencing the fullness of redemption, the Blessed Virgin remains female-Virgin and Mother, in fact. Although in the resurrection there is no "marrying, nor being given in marriage" (Matt. 22:30), our sexual identities as men and women persist. There is "neither ... male nor female" when it comes to accessing the life of grace (Gal. 3:28), but this doesn't obliterate the distinction between men and women altogether, nor does it imply they must have identical roles in the Church. Christ remains the Bridegroom of the Church; Mary remains Mother of the Church. Their personal identities remain gender-specific.

A final point on the Blessed Virgin's Assumption and us involves the Queenship of Mary. This notion is really a corollary to the doctrine of the Assumption. Like Christ, Mary too was raised bodily to reign in God's kingdom. Her Son is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," so she is "Mother of the Lord" (cf. Luke 1:43)-the "Queen Mother" as it were-sharing now in Christ's reign. Again, in this she is both a model of the Church and its precursor. As Paul says of all Christians, "If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim. 3:11, 12). Through her glorious Assumption, Blessed Virgin Mary has begun to reign with Christ as all Christians shall at the Resurrection of the Dead.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then, is neither irrelevant, nor irreverent. It is relevant because of what is says about who we are as human beings-beings of body and spiritual soul-and who are called to be-sons and daughters of God who will share in the fullness of divine life with Christ in heaven, a life of body and soul. And it is reverent because it exemplifies Christ's power in thoroughly redeeming his Mother, a redemption in which we hope to share one day. Until then, as Lumen gentium reminds us, "the Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth ... a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God" (no. 68).

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