Those on Whom God’s Favor Rests

December 11, 2020

By Sister Doris Gottemoeller

By now, you have probably set out your Christmas crèche—Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus in a stable, a couple of shepherds with a sheep or two standing near, and, hovering above, an angel with outstretched arms, representing a “host of heavenly visitors.” A few inches away (or a few feet, depending on the size of your mantel), the Magi and their camel approach.

——— Art by Sister Renee Yann

As we gaze on this beloved scene, we can hear the song of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests” (Luke 2:14) The story never grows old; the song never fails to lift our hearts. God has chosen ordinary people, humble shepherds, to receive good news of great joy for all the people: “Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

If I try to make a parallel between the time when the song was first sung and today, two things come to mind. First, the world into which Jesus was born was tragically divided—religiously, politically, economically. Among the Jews, competing sectors scorned one another. Roman rule over the Jews was often cruel and autocratic. And the gap between rich and poor seemed unbreachable. Today, our peoples and nations, despite enormous scientific progress, experience the same divisions, often exacerbated by the ability to insult and threaten one another using social media. And standing at the ready are weapons and armies that could destroy the planet as we know it.

But the second observation overwhelms the first: the “good news of great joy is for all the people.”   God wishes “peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:10) God’s favor is without limit, encompassing saints and sinners (and ourselves, wherever we stand on that spectrum!). God’s favor embraces:

  • The infant born with terrible fetal anomalies, destined to live only a few minutes
  • The murderer on death row
  • Your favorite NFL quarterback
  • Your best friend
  • The current occupant of the White House
  • The clerk who waited on you in the supermarket
  • And everyone else on Earth, whatever their ethnicity, nationality, religion or political views

In short, this is the source and bedrock of the Church’s social teaching: human dignity. God sent his Son as Messiah and Lord, as savior, for each and every human being. As we navigate our daily routines, however challenging they may be, we need to remind ourselves that God’s favor rests on every person we encounter. Today, as on the first Christmas, it is to ordinary people that God has chosen to make his message known.

Over the two millennia since that holy night, the Church has been singing the angel’s song in the Gloria of the Mass. As we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s open our hearts even wider to the angelic message: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.

Share This Story

Comments (34)

Add A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Sr. Patricia Pora

    Thank you, Sr. Doris! Sometimes we need reminders…

  2. Sarah Brown

    Awwww Sr. Doris – Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder! Many air hugs and well wishes during this advent season! Blessings, peace, and joy – Sarah

  3. Sister Carren Herring

    You have made the word flesh, Doris. Thank you

  4. Patricia Cook

    Oh Yes, dear Doris,

    Your message rings clearly in my heart this morn,
    with clarity and loveliness,
    ever ancient, yet ever, oh so new!

    Thank you for this ringing Good News, Patty

  5. Richard Mary

    Dear One, thank you for being another “herald of Good News!” Your comparisons of reality across the centuries draw us into that deeper oneness of humanity. We long for peace – only to know the truth is to simply rest in God! Blessings, RM

  6. Mary Daly RSM

    Dear Doris,

    Thank you for your hope filled message of God’s presence and love. Many blessings!

  7. Nancy Audette

    Words of great wisdom and hope. Thank you, Doris!

  8. Marian McSwigan

    Thank you Sr Doris for this wonderful reflection. May the Peace of Christmas be with you

  9. Marilyn Gottemoeller

    Thank you for your reflections, especially those highlighted: all the people on earth who are in desperate need, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, religion or political views. May we learn better to meet these needs as a country and as individuals.

  10. Jackie Moreau

    Helps the right focus.

  11. Susan Bell

    Lovely commentary. Thanks for filling my heart with joy🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄


    Dear Sister,

    Thank you for making this wonderful comparison from 2000 years ago to the present time. The times are so similar as far as religion, politics and economics are concerned. Hopefully and prayerfully our differences today can be handled with diplomacy and love for all mankind.

  13. Elaine Schneider

    Thank you Sr. Doris. Beautiful words of encouragement at this time. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Stay well.

  14. Jean Marie Kearse

    Thank you for adding your healing stitches to the great divides in our country.

  15. Marian McSwigan,Mercy Associate Cincinnati Ohio

    Thank you Sr Doris for this very very pertinent reflection especially in these difficult times.
    Wishing you Peace
    Of Christmas and good health.
    Marian McSwigan Mercy Associate Cincinnnati Ohio

  16. Canada Carol

    A good reminder and helps us to reflect on what is important in life. Our Savior always with us today and for eternity. Let’s share the good news with our friends and family.

  17. Natalie Rossi

    Thank you. I appreciate your words

  18. Sarah Marie Sherman


    Thank you for reminding us of some important things we sometimes find it easy to forget.

  19. Treacy Manion

    Truly beautiful.

  20. Sue LaVoie, Companion in MercyI

    What hope I found in your reflection … hope and a quiet joy and trust that ‘all will be well’ in God’s time.

  21. Sr.Cathleen Cahill

    Thank you, Doris. Yours is a sensitive message of hope. Blessings of this beautiful season. Cathleen Cahill

  22. Shirley Agnew

    Thanks Doris. God’s heart is so, so big. Room for all..saints, sinners, democrats, republicans, the high, the lowly, etc. etc.

  23. dolores brien

    Thank you for helping me to prepare a way for His coming into my heart and soul by your weekly reflections.

  24. Associate Lynn Cooper

    Thanks, Sr. Doris, for sharing this beautiful story of the Christ child who came to give us peace. I am thankful for the gift of peace during these challenging times of the pandemic. I’m always reminded that God is with us and His favor is upon us. Your message is so encouraging!

  25. Pauline Borghello

    It seems that human kind never learns but you’re reminder of hope is our gift to hold. Thank you so much.

  26. Trish Rice

    Your words were right on target with where we find our country, states and cities today, as well as people everywhere around the world. Thank your for your reflections . Glory to God in the highest”, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.

  27. Trish Rice

    Doris, your words were right on target for today. We have such divisions in our country, states and cities. It is only fitting to be reminded that God’s favor is without end and with everyone we meet. Indeed, Glory to God in the highest”, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.

  28. Sharon Kirsch

    Sr. Doris, thank you for reminding us of Gods love for all people and our roll in spreading His message of love to others.

  29. Deanna Dutro

    Awesome- thank you for your wisdom insights.
    Merry Christmas

  30. Joy Clough

    “Those on whom God’s favor rests” = everyone. Such a good reminder (and challenge) in this time of angry division. Thanks, Doris.

  31. Helen Amos

    Thank you for translating the message from Luke into a message for today. Thank you for the reminder that the endless bounty of God’s mercy extends to everyone I meet, everyone I read about in the newspaper, etc., etc…

    Christmas blessings to you!


  32. Fran Repa

    Yes, God’s favor rests on absolutely everyone…no exceptions.
    Thank Doris, for the reminder and reflection. Advent Blessings.

  33. Fran Repka

    Yes, God’s favor rests on absolutely everyone…no exceptions.
    Thank Doris, for the reminder and reflection. Advent Blessings.

  34. Patty Normile

    Thank you Sr. Doris. Your thoughts are appreciated.