The angel’s message to Mary and Joseph is God’s message to us: ‘Do not be afraid’

The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

When the angel of the Lord announced the good news of the coming of Christ our Savior to Mary and Joseph, he shared with each of them a message heard throughout Scripture: “Do not be afraid.” In response, Mary gave her yes — her fiat — to the Lord’s plan, saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.” Joseph listened, too, and took Mary into his home. 

Their consent to God’s plan did not spare them from hardship, and they soon found themselves on a challenging pilgrimage to Bethlehem, where Our Lady prepared to give birth in a manger. At the end of that long and difficult journey, they joyously welcomed the Divine Savior into their arms and their hearts.

In some ways, we walk in the footsteps of the Holy Family every year as we make our way through Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. This year our journey, like the one taken by Mary and Joseph, has been particularly difficult, our lives upturned by the pandemic, peace broken by civil unrest, and unity marred by division in our country. 

And still the Lord tells us: Do not be afraid.

A stained-glass window at St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck, N.Y., depicts Jesus in a manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph and three shepherds. (Gregory A. Shemitz | CNS photo) 

God created each of us to live and witness during this time. Let us respond with great joy to him who calls us out of all darkness and gives us the strength to face any difficulty. With the help of God’s grace, we can conclude our journey through this year with rejoicing as we prepare our hearts to receive Christ and ready a preeminent place for him in our lives. 

We travel this road together, as did Mary and Joseph. In a year that has brought health and economic crises to our doorsteps, it is more important than ever that we reach out however we can to those in need, those who are lonely, suffering, sick, or who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Above all, we pray for the souls of those lost to illness and the heroes in health care who serve on the front lines each day. This is how we prepare our hearts and our communities for the coming of Christ: by receiving his love anew and sharing it with others, especially those on the margins of our community. 

Let us ask the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph to intercede for us so that we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus — the Prince of Peace, the Bringer of Joy — and be filled with the same love they have for our newborn Savior. Let us then go forward with hope for the New Year and with faith that we are not alone, but are accompanied by Christ, the Word of God, who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. 

May you and your family have a safe and blessed Christmas, united in prayer with Our Lady and St. Joseph in rejoicing at the birth of our Savior. And may you be filled with peace, hope and abundant blessings in the New Year.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit