My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As the year draws to a close and the hopes for 2024 dawn, I am grateful to have the opportunity to pass along my own Advent greetings to you.
This year’s thoughts of our Lord’s miraculous birth in Bethlehem, the singing angels announcing his birth, and the star-guided Magi cannot be separated from the heart-rending war on the very soil from which our faith has grown. Truly, the angels’ announcement of “peace on earth” seems only a faint memory today.
It is by the birth of Christ that peace is restored between heaven and earth in the meeting of the angels and the shepherds; that a new brotherhood is born in the coming of the Magi from the east; that unity is fostered in all of creation in the gathering of man and beast together around the manger.
It is at the birth of Jesus that a new light “breaks upon us”(Luke 1:78). Just when the world seems to be engulfed in darkness—it is no mistake that we celebrate Christmas so close to the winter solstice—a new “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has come and cannot overtake it” (John 1:5).
We don’t need to watch the evening news to know that sin, suffering, and sadness still abound in too many war-torn regions: many of us can look no further than our own homes and hearts. But we need to watch for the coming of Christ during these Advent days and celebrate all he offers us—salvation, peace, and joy—at his birth.
Let us return, then, to the Holy Land, and let us focus our minds and hearts not only on the suffering its current inhabitants—which cannot be ignored—but on Christ who is born in its midst. If there is to be peace in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts, it will only be found in him.