Yes, Mary DOES Know

Even though we’re still in the season of Advent, you can’t help but hear Christmas carols playing everywhere you go. Some of them are of the traditional variety and invoke sacred images of the coming of our Savior. “O, Holy Night” is my favorite, never failing to give me chills when I hear it. Others are more secular in nature but still echo the joy of late December and our celebrations. “Jingle Bells” and “Let It Snow” are examples of these. Over the years, newer songs are added to our cultural Christmas playlist. Back in 1984, an evangelical comedian (whatever that is) named Mark Lowry was asked to write the words for a song that was to be used in his church’s Christmas program. The song he wrote was “Mary, Did You Know?” and since that time it’s been recorded by several artists. Now it’s a popular Christmas standard, telling the story of Jesus’ birth and purpose through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I think this is a good thing because here in the mostly-protestant South, Mary is rarely the subject of much serious contemplation, either in hymns or sermons. Before I entered the Catholic Church, the only time we thought about Mary was on Christmas Eve. She was very much a minor background player in my Baptist theology—maybe slightly more important than the shepherds or lambs but, like them, she never had any lines in our Christmas plays. She was just sort of “there,” a kind of biological necessity for the birth of Jesus. And as soon as the last carol had ended, Mary disappeared from our thoughts until the next Christmas.

The song, “Mary, Did You Know?” asks a lot of questions about what the Mother of God knew about her Son and what His life would hold. It’s a sweet song, but I have to wonder if Mr. Lowry has read Holy Scripture. If he has, he’d encounter what the Angel Gabriel told Mary when he came to her at the Annunciation. “Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a Son and you shall call Him Jesus. He shall be great and men will know Him as the Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David and He will reign over the house of Jacob eternally and His kingdom shall never have an end…the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Thus this holy Child of yours shall be known as the Son of God” (Luke 1:31-35). Mary did indeed, know. She knew she was to give birth to the Son of God. As a faithful Jew, Mary knew exactly what that meant. The Messiah had been prophesied for centuries and she knew all that the prophesy entailed. How much Mary knew and understood is reflected in her beautiful hymn of praise, the Magnificat, which she proclaimed upon her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. It includes: “From now on all generations will call me blessed…”(Luke 1:46-55). Elizabeth had praised Mary’s great faith in saying “yes” to God’s plan. Upon her arrival, Elizabeth had said to her: “How does this concern me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Elizabeth knew, too.

So enjoy the song, but answer each “Mary, Did You Know?” query with a resounding, “Yes!” Mary knew. She might not have known all the details of how her Son’s life would unfold, but she knew Who Jesus is and His great purpose. God may have revealed much more to her privately than we know from Scripture. It’s hard to imagine that the best Jewish mother of all time wouldn’t have known the big picture. From a Catholic viewpoint, the Blessed Virgin is our own Mother and through her “yes” Salvation came to us. Her life is our model of humility, faith and love of Christ. She longs to lead souls to her Son and will do this for anyone who asks this of her. Jesus chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be His own mother. We can never love her more than He already does. Yes, Mary knows.

“My soul magnifies The Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
——Luke 1:46-47

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