Today, a woman on Twitter posted that she knows a lot of Evangelicals, and they all love the song Mary, Did You Know.
Then, she said that most Catholics – herself included – loathe the song.
A few years back, our entire family attended an Amy Grant Christmas concert. Some priests were seated beside us. When Amy sang Mary, Did You Know, one priest wept silently. My twenty-something daughter still talks about how much love she saw in that priest.
Back then, nobody in the family was Catholic. Not even me.
So when I saw the Tweet today, it kind of surprised me. I suppose the woman's loathing is because the song's fundamental question has to do with whether or not Mary was oblivious to the full reality of the One within her womb. How much did she know about the One she bore, the One she held, the One she nursed?
As Catholics, our sense of wonder goes deeper. It goes to the heart of Mary’s yes. Mary is God’s most perfect creation, and she has given us a Savior.
She wasn’t stewing over whether Jesus would be able to walk on water or heal a blind man. She was marveling at the power of God. As Catholics, we enter into that moment so deeply that a songwriter’s words can’t contain it.
Only Mary’s own words, her own song – the Magnificat – will suffice.
But what I loved about the priest at that Amy Grant concert is that he didn’t loathe an Evangelical’s rendering of Mary. He didn’t critique Mark Lowry's lyrics, though the priest's understanding of Mary went far deeper than the song ever could. When he thought of Mary, he thought of the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God, the perfect creation, Our Lady of Grace.
And he wept as he listened. Someone was singing about his greatest love – the miracle at Bethlehem. A virgin and the Son of God.
The priest knew that God places questions in our hearts.
The simple questions, like Mary did you know . . .
The profound questions, like Mary are you the Immaculate Conception?
The deep, troubling questions.
The questions-that-shake-the soul.
And all the questions are answered right here – where a woman’s fiat to God ushers in the greatest gift. For unto us, a Son is born.
She is the sign. She is the one we read about today at Mass. The priest at the Amy Grant concert fully understood who Mary is. He also understood that most evangelization begins with a question – and the evangelizing bears fruit when we welcome the question and respond—not with loathing because we have it all figured out, but when we respond with love.
With wonder and awe.
What did Mary know? I think she knew a lot – far more than we can imagine. But the one thing that matters most is not what she knew.
It’s what she did.
Let it be done unto me according to your word – for I am the handmaid of the Lord. All generations will call me blessed – for the Almighty has done great things for me.
And holy is His name.
Let us lose the arrogance. Yes, we know Mary in a way Evangelicals do not. What matters is not how much more we know. What matters is how much we love. How much we share. We must become like that priest. Our love must fill us and spill over.
We let that transform us until the tears run down our cheeks – and the people sitting in our row begin to grasp something more.
We have been given a sign. There is enough for everyone to contemplate. And that is something we should encourage.
“The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.” – Isaiah 7:14