The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When the angel of the Lord announced the coming of Christ, both Mary and Joseph hesitated.
“How can this be?” Mary asked (Lk. 1:34). Joseph decided on a quiet divorce, as he was “unwilling to expose her to shame” (Mt. 1:19).
This child was not part of their plans.
We gather each Christmas with friends and family to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior, who came to free us from sin and death. Part of the great mystery of the incarnation we celebrate is that Christ came to us not as a king or conqueror, but as an infant born into a young family that was not expecting him — a family whose lives are greatly disrupted by his arrival.
In response to the angel’s news, both Mary and Joseph overcame their hesitancy and said “yes” to the will of God, welcoming His Son into their lives. They continued saying “yes” as God led them to a stable in Bethlehem and later into exile in Egypt and, finally, to Nazareth.
In his 2021 apostolic letter, Patris corde, Pope Francis remarked on the “creative courage” of St. Joseph, who “was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence.”
The same is true of Mary’s trust in God’s plan.
The Holy Family is reflected today in the trials and triumphs of all families, particularly those who seek to follow our Lord in the face of life’s difficulties. As we welcome Christ in our Christmas celebrations this year, let us ask ourselves how we can extend that same joyous welcome to mothers and fathers in need in our midst.
Are we like the Magi, who went to great lengths to seek out the Holy Family, generously providing for them and adoring the child Jesus?
Or are we like Herod, who spoke of doing homage (Mt. 2:8) but ultimately put his own plans and desires before the will of God?
We welcome and serve Christ when we welcome and serve the mother facing an unexpected pregnancy, supporting her so she is empowered to give the great gift of life. We provide for Him when we help provide for families who have been forced to flee their homelands. We open our hearts to our Lord when we open our hearts to “every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person” (Patris corde, 5).
What we do for them, we do for Christ.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, may the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus be our inspiration to generously serve those in need around us. And through this service, may we experience and share the joy of welcoming the Incarnate Word in our midst.
May the peace of Christ be with you, your loved ones, and all whom you encounter this Christmas season.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit