Did you know who Mary is?

November 21/December 4, 2022

Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple

There is a figure in the standard Nativity creche scene. She is often forgotten other times of the year, but during the Christmas season, it is impossible to avoid her. One popular song during this season evokes wonder about what she knew or perhaps did not know at first about her role in Messiah’s birth. While it is meant to evoke wonder at the Lord, I wonder if it is dismissive of his mother in some subtle way. The words go…

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you.

Today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the Temple reveals that not only did she know quite a few things before becoming the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, she learned them at the tender age of three! The divine service of today’s feast calls her, “not many years old in the flesh, but many years old in the spirit.” Her agreement with God, the culmination of centuries of longing, was the result of much meditation and instruction by holy people and even angels. She enters today the most holy place in the temple, a place only reserved for the high priest to enter once a year, and there she receives preparation to become herself a temple of the God come in the flesh.

So as I think about the lyrics of this popular song, I wonder if we might turn the question around. Singer, did you know that the woman you sing about so casually serves as much more than a passive instrument of God? Her “yes” to the Archangel Michael in his Annunciation meant that all of mankind and the cosmos could be saved, and she was entirely free to say no. Indeed if we see our Most Holy Virgin Mother as anything less than the greatest gift mankind could offer God, we miss something about our own salvation. Indeed her own reflection in the great hymn of the Magnificat as contained in St. Luke’s Gospel should be enough for us to take a second look at this great saint:

For she should be honored all year long for her purity, her sacrifice, and her total agreement with God’s good plans and not just in the month leading up to Christmas. For she intercedes for us in heaven along with all the other saints, even when we fail to recognize her presence. Come Lord Jesus as we await you in this season of Advent, and by the prayers of your Most Holy Mother, grant us peace and unexpected consolation.

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