The return of a new coronavirus variant has left many of us feeling sad and disappointed.

For more than a year, we have been living with the fear of illness and death. Now, we are again trying to find our way, to function with the reality of this deadly virus that remains all around us.

The great solemnity that we celebrated on Sunday gives us every reason for hope.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven, body and soul, calls us to set aside fear, and remember the glorious destiny that has been promised to each and every person.

As Catholics, we are people of the Assumption. We follow the One who conquered death and raised Blessed Mary into heaven at the end of her earthly life. Where Mary has gone, we know we can go too.

This is a powerful truth in every age. But especially now, in this fearful time, we need to renew our faith in the resurrection of the body and the promise of heaven.

When Pope Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption in 1950, it was at the end of a half-century period that had seen two world wars; the genocide of millions of the Jewish people; a nuclear bomb attack; an influenza outbreak that infected and killed nearly 100 million worldwide; and the rise of atheist-totalitarian regimes in Russia and China.

In this time of widespread death, cruel disrespect for the human person and human body, and a spreading sense that the individual does not matter, the pope’s proclamation of the Assumption dogma came as both the answer and the antidote. It was a reminder to a troubled world that God was still in charge, that his love and mercies endure forever.

From the earliest days, the Church has believed that Blessed Mary was the first of us to experience the joy of eternal life, but that she was not to be the last. Her Assumption has always been regarded as a pledge that the resurrection of the body is promised to all of us.

Ancient accounts of the Assumption tell us that when it came time for Mary’s earthly life to end, the 12 apostles were summoned by angels from the ends of the earth, to be with Our Lady at her bedside in Jerusalem.

This is a beautiful image of the Church and I think it speaks powerfully to our mission in this moment.

Like the apostles, we need to stay united in prayer with the mother of Jesus, who is the mother of the Church and the mother of each one of us who believes in her Son.

With Mary, we need to proclaim, “The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.”

The truth of the Assumption is the answer and the antidote that our world needs in this time of coronavirus.

In this time of the coronavirus, the Assumption tells us that disease and death do not have the last word in any person’s life. Death may come but our bodies are destined to rise, as Blessed Mary’s did. The Almighty will still do great things for us, just as he did for Mary.

Like her Immaculate Conception, Mary’s Assumption is the sign of God’s love for the human person, his tender care, and involvement in every human life.

Our Blessed Mother Mary was specially chosen for her role in salvation history — conceived without original sin and given the grace to live with perfect holiness throughout her life.

But our neighbors need to be reminded that God also has a personal hand in the creation of each and every person. He knows our name, even before our parents do. Each of us is born because he wants us to be here, and because he has a plan of love for our lives.

In our parishes, ministries, and schools, we need to proclaim these truths with joy and confidence — that every human person is precious in God’s eyes, that God creates us to know joy and love in this life and to live forever with him in the life to come.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

And let us keep praying for our nation, for all those who are sick and dying and all those who are caring for them, at home and in hospitals.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us and bring deliverance from this pandemic. And may she strengthen all of us in the Church, “now, and at the hour of our death.”