Mary, Did You Know?
Like many Catholics, I am unimpressed by the song, “Mary, Did You Know?”
Mind you, I think it’s not all bad. It’s a pretty song and it helps many Christians reflect on the thoughts of Mary as she beheld her Son. And let’s face it — meditating on Mary’s thoughts bring us to Jesus and make us love Jesus all the more! That’s why the Rosary and the Seven Sorrows of Mary are such fantastic devotions that I heartily recommend! Since Protestantism has unfortunately moved away from really appreciating Mary as Mother of God, any attempt to get people to think about Our Lady in a pious manner is good!
However, the theology behind the song is shoddy. For one, in the first verse basically contradicts the Immaculate Conception and thus basically takes away from the miracle of Christmas, which is not a great way to start off a Christmas song. (Here’s a good article from Aleteia, written by a Jesuit priest, explaining why exactly the theology is so shoddy.)
Plus, honestly? Mary probably knew that Something Really Big was behind this whole call of God. After all, it started off with a miracle when Jesus was miraculously conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit! Just look at the conversation that Mary and the angel had:
26In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
I mean. Gabriel is practically spelling out to her that she will be the mother of the Messiah. And scripture talks what the Messiah will do. Nor was Mary a dummy about scripture — her Magnificat recalls Hannah’s Song of Thanksgiving! Plus, tradition holds that she, as a little girl, lived in the Temple, where she sewed priestly garments and learned scripture. No dummy indeed!
No, she knew what was going to happen, though she may not have been aware of all the specifics. That’s what makes her Fiat — her yes — all the more incredible!
Still, it makes me wonder — when she was just a little girl, living in the Temple… did she know what would come to her? What sort of things did she think God have planned for her?
Here is a picture of her as a little girl, sewing priestly garments, her head tilted up in a daydream.
Looking back at my own life, when I was a little girl, I had really no idea what God had planned for me. Yet, I wondered all the same about where my place was in the world and what would happen in my own future. And now, as a mother of a daughter, I see my own three-year-old daughter talking about how soon she will get older and become big and strong.
Did Mary know what was to come to her when she was a little girl in the Temple? Probably not! Back then, she probably had an idea that something special would happen. But, to know that she would be called to be the mother of the Messiah? Even in her wildest dreams, she would probably never guess that God had that planned for her!
Yet, such it is with life. The plans that we have for ourselves is nothing compared to the greatness that God has in store for us!
Questions to Ponder:
What sort of things do you think Mary is daydreaming about as you look at her in this picture?
When you were young, what sort of dreams did you have when you envisioned the future?
What were some unexpected ways that God has called you to live out your vocation?
Help direct us to accept and embrace the vocations that You give us so that we may serve You better.
Speaking of the Rosary, I made a book about the Joyful Mysteries that illustrates each prayer with classic religious art. Take a peek at it here!