The Assumption | Mgr. Ronald Knox | From Pastoral and Occasional Sermons | August 15th | Ignatius Insight
A cave Jeremias found there, in which he set down tabernacle and ark and incense-altar, and stopped up the entrance behind him. There were some that followed; no time they lost in coming up to mark the spot, but find it they could not.—2 Machabees 2:5-6.
After this, God's heavenly temple was thrown open, and the ark of the covenant was plain to view, standing in his temple.—Apocalypse 11:19.
The Son of God came to earth to turn our hearts away from earth, Godwards. The material world in which we live was, by his way of it, something immaterial; it didn't matter. We were not to be always worrying about our clothes being shabby, or wondering where our next meal was to come from; the God who fed the sparrows and clothed the lilies would see to all that. We were not to resent the injuries done to us by our neighbours; the aggressor was welcome to have a slap at the other cheek, and when he took away our greatcoat he was to find that we had left our coat inside it. Life itself, the life we know, was a thing of little value; it was a cheap bargain, if we lost life here to attaIn the life hereafter. There was a supernatural world, interpenetrating, at a higher level, the world of our experience; it has its own laws, the only rule we were to live by, its own prizes, which alone were worth the winning. All that he tried to teach us; and we, intent on our own petty squabbles, our sordid struggle for existence, cold-shouldered him at first, and then silenced his protest with a cross.
His answer was to rise from the dead; and then, for forty days in the world's history, that supernatural life which he had preached to us flourished and functioned under the conditions of earth. A privileged few saw, with mortal eyes, the comings and goings of immortality, touched with their hands the impalpable. For forty days; then, as if earth were too frail a vessel to contain the mystery, the tension was suddenly relaxed. He vanished behind a cloud; the door of the supernatural shut behind him, and we were left to the contemplation of this material world, drab and barren as ever.
What was the first thing the apostles saw when they returned from the mount of the Ascension to the upper room? "Together with Mary"—is it only an accident that the Mother of God is mentioned just here, by name, and nowhere else outside the gospels? The Incarnate Word had left us, as silently as he came to us, leaving no trace behind him of his passage through time. No trace? At least, in the person of his blessed Mother, he had bequeathed to us a keepsake, a memory. She was bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, the new Eve of the new Adam. That body of hers, still part of the material order of things, had housed and suckled God. As long as she lived, there would still be a link, a golden link, between this lower earth and Paradise. As long as she lived; and even if it was God's will that she, Eve's daughter, should undergo the death that was Eve's penalty, the penalty she had never incurred, her mortal remains would still be left with us, an echo from the past, an influence on our lives. We men, since we are body and soul, do honour even to the lifeless bodies which have housed the dead; Napoleon rests in the Invalides, Lenin at Moscow. The day would come when there would be pilgrimages from all over the world to the shrines of Peter and Paul at Rome, of James at Compostela. Was it not reasonable to hope that somewhere, at Jerusalem, perhaps, or at Ephesus, we should be privileged to venerate the mortal remains of her through whom salvation came to us? Or perhaps at Bethlehem, Bethlehem-Ephrata, this new Ark of God would rest, as the ark rested of old; "And now, at Ephrata, we have heard tidings of what we looked for"  —the old tag from the Psalms should still ring true.