There is a simple but true little saying: ‘To Jesus, through Mary.’ It is only to God that we pray and it is only from God that grace is given; yet the closeness of Mary to her divine Son allows for us to seek her intercession. Hence, to Jesus, through Mary. Yet, this little phrase can legitimately be reversed on today’s feast of Our Lady’s assumption – body and soul – into heaven at the completion of her earthly life. ‘Through Jesus, to Mary’ might fairly identify the meaning of Mary’s assumption. Let me explain.

St Paul teaches in the second reading we heard today, that “… all people will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him.” St Paul is talking here of the hope we hold of our own resurrection, in and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of his resurrection, our death need not be the end of us.

Mary’s assumption is proof of this: she who belonged to her Son in an utterly unique way (or perhaps, he belonged to her, having taken his humanity entirely from her), shares intimately in the fruits of his death and resurrection. Where the Son had gone first, so the Mother then followed; through his resurrection and ascension, to her dormition and assumption, and then onto our hope for eternal life.

Christ’s human body was from Mary’s, as we all know and believe. But it is equally true to say that it is to Christ’s glorious Body that Mary belongs. She raised him in his human life because he was a part of her body, but He raised her to eternal life because she was a part of his Body. This exchange between Mother and Son is deeply significant for it lays out for us our own pathway to eternal life. Just as Mary belonged to her Son and shared in his glory, so we are to belong to the Body of Christ if we are to share in his glory. There is a saving value in belonging to Christ.

Our own pathway to this belonging is both different to, and the same as Mary’s. Different, because we do not share in the DNA of Jesus’ humanity. But it is the same because, in faith and through baptism, we have been adopted into his divine family, and grafted onto his life. In faith, therefore, we will find our way towards our own resurrection and assumption.

Mary, again, shows us the way this happens by being not only ‘Mother’ but also ‘First Disciple’. It was in faith that Mary could sing, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord … for the Almighty has done great things for me.” By God’s goodness the lowly are raised, the hungry are filled, mercy is given; and by her faith, Mary – the truest disciple of her Son – activates this blessing for all of us.

The prayer of glory and praise at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer in every Mass begins, “Through him, with him and in him…” It is a reminder that we share in the glory of the Lord by way of him who shared in our humanity. Mary’s bodily assumption into Heaven is a visible sign of this invisible belief. May we find in it hope for us, and for the world.

Image: The Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Byzantine-style mosaic), Sta Maria in Trastevere, Rome.