Here we are, mere days from Christmas, and we hear a Gospel anticipat-ing the birth of another child. Mary has received word that her cousin Elizabeth is with child. Pregnant as she is, Mary "set out and traveled to the hill country in haste." She has recently received the greatest news of her life - that she is to be mother to the Messiah by the power of the Ho-ly Spirit - but her concern is for her cousin in need. Through God's grace, Elizabeth turns it into an opportunity to honor the coming Christ. "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Yet Mary's example of selflessness should inspire us. As Christmas draws near, there is plenty of goodness to anticipate for many of us. We'll reunite with family and friends, uphold time-honored traditions, swap stories old and new, exchange gifts, and welcome Jesus at the Christmas liturgy. These are wonderful things! Of course, they probably all come with their own to-do list. Shop for last-minute gifts, pick up recipe ingredients, ready the guest room, or pack your own bags. Mary probably had things to do as well. She had a lot to consider, for one thing. How do you plan to tell your parents you're pregnant, but no man was involved? When Joseph finds out, who will care for the practi-cal needs of you and your child? Into what may have been a chaos of questions, Mary receives news that someone is in need. She goes imme-diately. In these final days before Christmas, stay watchful and awake! You nev-er know when God might invite you to welcome, hospitality, and com-passion. It might be tempting to reject the opportunity for your own needs. Follow the example of Mary! If God is providing you an oppor-tunity to love, He will provide the means to accomplish all your other tasks. This Christmas season, may you too hear, "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."