Rediscovering the joy and wonder of Christmas

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron

At the beginning of the Gospel story, when the shepherds hear the announcement that Christ is born, they encourage each other: “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Blessed Solanus Casey gazes at a Nativity scene at St. Bonaventure Monastery in this 1944 file photo.

At the end of the Gospel story, the disciples in turn hear Christ encouraging them: “Go, therefore, to make disciples of all nations.”

There is a photograph I recently saw of Blessed Solanus Casey. He is standing before a Nativity scene, hands folded, gazing upon the Holy Family in the stable at Bethlehem. It is a beautiful picture, catching this holy man in a moment of contemplation and grateful wonder at the gift of his salvation. It is a very ordinary Nativity scene, found in many of our homes. Yet here it provided a moment of contemplation, and it was in moments like this — by going to Bethlehem — that Fr. Solanus rediscovered the joy and inspiration for all he did. Renewed and filled with joy at the gift of Christ, he was able to meet with joy all the nations that the Lord brought to him.

Christmas is a season to return to Bethlehem. A season to celebrate our salvation, to revisit that decisive moment of our lives when the Savior enters. A season to renew our gratitude, our wonder, our joy, at the incredible news that our God has come, that he is with us, and that he is intent on saving us from sin and death.

Let us encourage each other, then, to return to Bethlehem and take time to rediscover the joy of our salvation. It is in this way that, when Christ later encourages us to “Go, make disciples of all nations,” we will be ready: ready to respond with grateful hearts to unleash the Gospel, as joyful missionary disciples.

May the Lord bless you and keep you close, and a I wish a Merry Christmas to everyone.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit