God’s Mother inspires us to work for peace Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

We Catholics begin the New Year by celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

On New Year’s we also celebrate the World Day of Peace. This is a feast established by Pope Paul VI and supported by other modern popes.

In many ways these two feasts complement each other, because peace begins in the family. Responsible parents teach us to be persons of peace. Mary is Queen of Peace and the mother of the Prince of Peace.

Since New Year’s is a time of new beginnings, we begin the new year by making resolutions to begin again. In this article I suggest three resolutions.

Make our work a prayer

1. Since we spend much time at work, a New Year’s resolution might involve our work. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus can inspire us to make our work a prayer and offer it to God the Father.

We can evaluate whether we are giving an honest day’s work, have a Christ-like attitude towards fellow workers, and whether our work helps to make our world a better place. Feeling that our work is worthwhile, receiving just compensation, and making our work a prayer helps us to do quality work.

St. Benedict said, “To work is to pray!” Brother Lawrence offered his work to God as prayer. We can also pray for our employers, employees, and co-workers — especially those who bear heavy burdens — and visit them if they are hospitalized. We can pray for the unemployed or help the unemployed to find work.

One of my favorite drawings of Mary is a picture of her sweeping her Nazareth home. This picture was drawn for me by an inmate at the Oregon Correctional Center. As I clean my apartment, her picture inspires me, but sometimes I wish that she were here to help me.

Foster peace

2. A second New Year’s resolution is to foster peace. According to the June 1988 issue of Today in the Word, in 3,530 years of recorded world history, only 286 years saw peace. More than 8,000 peace treaties have made and broken during this time.

The message of Pope Francis for the 2014 World Day of Peace is “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace.” Since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has stressed the need for fraternity on a local and world level. He believes that today’s self-centered culture has caused many to lose their sense of responsibility and fraternal relationships.

Often the poor and needy are seen as burdens rather than brothers and sisters called to share the gifts of creation. To combat our throw away culture, he stresses the need for a culture of order to build a more just and peaceful world.

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The peace of Jesus is not just a peace characterized by absence of conflict or a ceasefire. It is characterized by respect and harmony in our relationship with God and others.

Do God’s will

3. The third resolution is to try harder to do God’s will as Mary did. Certainly God’s will is to keep the commandments and to live the Gospel.

Specifically, God’s will is to be peaceful and Christ-like in personal challenging situations. Reflecting upon and praying the prayer of St. Francis helps us to work for peace in our family, workplace, city, nation, and world. Pope John XXIII said that we can only achieve peace with God’s help.

A good New Year’s resolution is to pray this prayer daily and ask the Holy Spirit for courage and wisdom to live this prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to loveFor it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.


Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.