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Before the Beginning

In our haste to read Luke 2, we often barrel right past the first chapter of that book. We can all quote "In those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." But how many of us have ever memorized "In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary"?

Before the birth could happen, Mary had to give her fiat, her "Let it be." God cooperates with human beings, never overriding our free will. Mary, teenager that she (probably) was, could have listened to Gabriel's spiel and said no. She could have refused to carry the Christ Child, could have opted out of becoming the Mother of God. If she had, God would have chosen another woman, yes, but when? Where? To fulfill the prophecies, a long list of criteria had to be met, after all. Not many candidates existed.

But she didn't refuse. She accepted, saying, "I am the Lord's servant. May your word to me be fulfilled."

Mary's was a remarkable faith. In the space of minutes, she decided she, a virgin, would conceive. She believed the child would be the Son of God. She knew God would take care of the one He had chosen to bear His Son. She thought the risks -- stoning, exile, loneliness -- were far outstripped by the reward. Her faith enabled salvation to come to the world.

May our faith be as strong as Mary's as we celebrate the birth of her son. May we, too, place our souls in the hands of their Maker.

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