The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we joyfully commemorate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, the carols we sing often call attention to his mission to bring peace to the world:
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
These thoughts of Christmas peace are rooted in Sacred Scripture. The prophet Isaiah, writing nearly 3,000 years ago, foretold there would come a child named “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:5). When we read the word “peace” in the Old Testament, it is often a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, which means “to be complete or whole.” The words of Isaiah, then, have a much richer meaning than may be apparent given our more modern understanding of the word “peace” as a sort of tranquility or absence of violence. Jesus Christ came into the world to make whole — or to complete — God’s plan for us to know him and spend eternity with him in Heaven.
This ancient understanding of peace is particularly important today, in a world steeped in conflict. This year, we have watched with sadness as violence unfolded in the Holy Land and political and cultural divisions continued to grow in our country. We may also have experienced tension and disputes in our families, and perhaps conflict at times in our own hearts.
As Catholics, during the Christmas season we celebrate the birth of Jesus even (or especially) amid such conflict, because we know that Jesus is the only salve that will heal these wounds. Recall the words of Jesus to the Apostles, a message repeated at each Mass: “I leave you peace, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). And the peace of Christ is not fleeting; it is the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
This Christmas, I invite you to give Christ’s peace to others, as he did for his Apostles and does for each of us at Mass. Let us actively participate in the completion of God’s plan for our hurting world, loving one another as Christ loves us and serving as faithful heralds of his peace to our families and communities.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, I pray that you receive the gift of Christ’s peace and share it joyfully with all around you.
Merry Christmas, dear brothers and sisters. “Hail! the heaven-born Prince of Peace!”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit