THE WORD: Mary did you know? Yes.

PHOTO CAPTION: “Annunciation” (circa 1472) by Leonardo da Vinci is thought to be da Vinci’s earliest complete work. The painting is in the collection of the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy. (Public Domain)

The term “advent” is derived from the Latin “adventus,” meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Based on that etymology, Advent has a dual meaning of celebrating the arrival of Jesus at his birth and preparing for his Second Coming. As we keep our calendars, light our wreaths and erect our Christmas trees, remember that Advent is not just about when Jesus came but also when he is coming again.

The beginning of the Christmas story starts with the arrival of the angel Gabriel who announced the miraculous conception of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. The familiar passage showed the profound nature of Gabriel’s news and the deep faith of Mary, who declared herself a “handmaid of the Lord.” A popular modern song, “Mary, Did You Know?” by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, asks whether Mary knew that her baby boy would one day walk on water or cure the sick. It also asks whether she knew that her child is the Lord of all creation and the future ruler of all nations.

Luke 1 reveals clearly that yes, Mary did know this. The Angel Gabriel reveled to Mary that Jesus would reign forever and that he was the son of the Highest. Mary did not know until that moment — when God’s plan was revealed — what her faith would require and what her impact on the course of human history would be. Her faith also prepared her for her role.

Luke 1: 28-33

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.