Today we celebrate the birth of Mary, “of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” While the readings are a lot to wade through, they reveal Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy and the son of David, the son of Abraham. They also reveal Jesus as the son of Mary.

Mary’s birth prepared the way for the birth of Jesus.

Taken on it’s own, that’s quite a statement. But the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy are both pivotal to our faith and a miracle to be endlessly pondered.

If I place myself in Mary’s position, I am overcome with worry. With child before marriage? A child conceived of the Holy Spirit? A child who shall be named Jesus, who will save people from their sins? Why me?

At first I imagine Mary as being earnest­—praying and relying on her faith to make sense of everything. But in reading the short portion of the Psalm for today and reflecting on the Magnificat, I get a much different sense. Mary seems free. Maybe it was freedom, not earnestness, that allowed her to say yes to her special mission. And by saying yes in freedom, Mary helps free us all.

In your own life, when do you say yes out of duty and earnestness? What would saying yes out of freedom look like instead? What holds you back from a freer yes?

—Elizabeth Collier has degrees from three different Jesuit universities, including a PhD in Christian Ethics from Loyola University Chicago. She teaches at Dominican University in River Forest, IL.