Mary's assumption invites us to follow her Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

On August 15, we celebrate Mary’s assumption into heaven.

In no. 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”

Shows us how to love

Mary’s assumption can motivate us to reflect upon events that led to her being assumed into heaven as a reward for her faithfulness.

First, God created us in his image. Since God is love, we humans image God best when we love. But our ability to love was wounded by original sin. God, the Father, gave us humans another chance by sending his Son Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, to teach us how to love, show us what love is, and redeem us from sins which keep us from loving.

On December 8, we celebrate the good news that from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb, Mary was free from sin. She was also fully open to doing God’s will; consequently, God the Father chose her to be the mother of the messiah, which was the dream of every Jewish girl. Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Mary is the patroness of the United States.

Model of discipleship

Second, on the feast of the Annunciation, we celebrate the conception of Jesus by Mary on March 25, nine months before Jesus’ birth. In Luke, 1:26-35, God sent the angel Gabriel to ask Mary to be Jesus’ mother. Mary responded, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.”

In the Magnificat, Mary responded to her call to be Jesus’ mother by rejoicing that God had done great things for her and she is blessed among women. Therefore we Catholics call her our Blessed Mother.

The Second Vatican Council placed its teaching about Mary within the Constitution of the Church in order to emphasize that Mary was the model of discipleship and of Church. Like Mary, good Christian mothers are also disciples. As one of the primary religious educators of us their children, like Mary, mothers also care for us spiritually in the “little church” of the home.

Mary’s motherhood

Third, the Christmas season reminds us of Mary’s motherhood. On December 25, we celebrate the good news that at Christmas, Mary gave birth to Jesus. During the Christmas season we also honor Mary’s motherhood on January 1 and we see Mary as mother especially on the feasts of the Holy Family, the Presentation, Epiphany, and Holy Innocents.

Fourth, in John’s Gospel, as Jesus dies on the cross, he commissions Mary as mother of the Church in the words, “Son, behold your mother. Mother behold your Son.” As mother of the Church, Mary was present at Pentecost when the Church came of age.

Mary did not ascend to heaven under her own power, as Jesus did, but she was assumed into heaven by Jesus. The assumption was the end of Mary’s earthly life and the beginning of her life in heaven where, as our spiritual mother, she cares for us, her children.

Following her

In the Hail Mary, we pray, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” In no. 2677 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All Holy One. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son Jesus in paradise.”

The feast of Mary’s Assumption has been called our feast, because where Mary has gone we hope to follow. Let us pray for the grace to follow Jesus as Mary did through time into eternity.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.