Gospel reflection: Pondering what love is … and does

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

"The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst (1592–1656). Photo: 1855: bequeathed by Johann Heinrich Claren/Public Domain

The Church’s feast on Jan. 1 weaves together two important themes: Mary as the Mother of God and our hope for world peace. While at first they might seem unconnected, perhaps there is an important lesson here for us. The Dalai Lama once remarked that we receive our first lessons in peaceful living from our mothers, who reveal for us what love is and does. Their loving care for us in our helplessness establishes the foundation for creating right relationships in the family, in society, and among nations.

In the Bible, peace (shalom in Hebrew) describes the result of justice, which establishes right relationships and so brings about harmony, prosperity, and a full and happy life for all. The First Reading reminds us that the blessing of peace is God’s gift and not just our work, while the Gospel describes the shepherds relaying the angelic message to Mary and Joseph that the coming of their son, Jesus, as our savior brings peace to all people.

No doubt Jesus learned to yearn for justice and peace from his mother, Mary, whose prayer for justice (the Magnificat, Luke 1:46–55) is fulfilled in Jesus’ life work to establish God’s kingdom of justice, love, and peace on earth. As we begin our new calendar year, like Mary let us ponder God’s word in our hearts and imitate her concern for justice and peace in all of our daily actions.

  Steve Mueller


Numbers 6:22–27

Psalm 67:2–3, 5, 6, 8

Galatians 4:4–7

Luke 2:16–21

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