Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I hope you are celebrating a blessed, joy-filled and peaceful Christmas season!
The mention of peace is prevalent this season. We read it in cards, sing it in hymns and hear it in Scripture and homilies. Given the uncertainty that comes with terrorism, unrest and war, it might be difficult to align what we read, sing and hear about peace with what we are witnessing in the world.
We struggle with the nature of conflict and war and wonder how we can solve it.
Yet, in readying our hearts throughout Advent to welcome the Prince of Peace, and by continuing that welcome during this Christmas season, we can act upon our desire for peace – especially this time of year.
No one of us has an answer that would be universally accepted. What we do have, however, is the capability to touch the hearts of those closest to us – our families, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Each of us can look at people in our own lives with whom reconciliation is needed and then act upon it.
It might be with someone at work or with a relative you will see at a family get-together. Is there a way you can move at least one step in that direction – even a small step that will lead toward healing?
Consider how you prepared yourself for Christmas by making room for Christ in your heart. The next step is to share that peace with family members and others. Although it might seem cliché, charity begins at home. If we are in conflict interiorly or among family and friends, that is where we must look first. Through this reconciliation, we can have an impact.
As we share in Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which is at the root of reconciliation, peace and unity, ask for the grace to be a resolver of conflict, to be a peacemaker. By our attitudes and hopefulness, this is who we are called to be – even when the world in which we live might discourage and disparage them.
Let us hold in our hearts Jesus’ words at the Last Supper: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. [Emphasis added] Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27).
May 2024 be a year in which your heart is filled with peace, and in which together we work for the peace that Jesus taught and exemplified.
With kindest personal regards,
Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout
Bishop of Richmond