She Went First
"I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting."
We say that at Mass every Sunday. Every Christian who recites the Apostle's Creed says it. The sentence starts with "I believe" for a reason. It is your personal affirmation of God's Truth. It is, in a way, your Fiat. And so, if you believe in the resurrection of the body, then this day makes perfect sense. It is a celebration of the hope of the faithful.
Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. I love the Feast of the Assumption, as we used to call it. It is one of my favorite days of the liturgical year. I love this day because it makes a theological statement a living reality; it points to where we are going and how we will spend eternity. But most Christians and even many Catholics find it very strange and mysterious. What do you mean she didn't die? What do you mean by assumed?
Like most mysteries, we can't ever fully understand it because as Aquinas said, if you can understand it, then it isn't God. But we can believe what we proclaim together every Sunday. Then it becomes very simple -- Mary went first when she was assumed into heaven, body and soul. If we believe the Lord gave us the resurrection of the body, someone had to go first. And why not Mary, his first and most devoted disciple, created without sin, the highly favored one, his beloved Mother.
She went first.
She went first because of what she said to the angel in that room.
She went first because of what she said to the steward at that wedding.
And she went first because she sat at the foot of that cross, when all his apostles save one fled in fear, brokenhearted but steadfast, and said nothing in words but everything in those tears.
Can we be made whole in eternity like her? Can we be raised up? Can the mystery be revealed to us?
Like her, we have only to say Yes. And we do each time we say, "I believe."