"She was found with child through the holy Spirit." (Lk 1:18)
One of the most challenging and easily ignored aspects of salvation history is the sketchiness of Jesus' genealogy. Although very uncommon in Jewish record keeping, five women are mentioned, two of whom are prostitutes and one an adulteress. This is no accident. The gospels will consistently remind us that unless we think outside the box, we will miss the power of Christ's life and mission.
The gospel is about conversion and redemption. All of us make mistakes, some of them egregious and overwhelming. If we allow ourselves to get trapped in these mistakes than the possibility of forgiveness and transformation will seem impossible. The gospel is full of stories of forgiveness and new life. In fact, Matthew mentions the word forgiveness 47 times. Even more important are the stories of faith and courage, the most dramatic of which is Mary's.
Anxious and upset about the angel's message to her that she would become pregnant, she resists, and only after being reassured that her pregnancy is of the Holy Spirit does she consent to God's will for her. But what impresses me even more is her willingness, after being reassured that God is with her, to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also newly pregnant. No Jewish woman would venture to travel alone for fear she would be judged a prostitute, but Luke's Gospel suggests that Mary's confidence in God was such that traveling alone and being judged harshly meant nothing to her.
Mary continues to astound us, even after the death of Jesus. Despite the fact that the gospel's tell us that his disciples abandoned her son during his suffering and death, Mary continues to accompany them (Acts 1), and we can be sure, she will accompany us. Mary has been given to us not only as the mother of Jesus, but our mother. The birth of Mary reminds us to depend on her not only as an icon of faith, but as a mother to whom we can always turn.