Dear Friends in Christ,
As Advent hymns give way to Christmas carols, we cannot help but think of the song of the angels at Bethlehem 2,000 years ago: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:13-14).” It is a scene that returns again and again to our imaginations as we sing the music of this holy season to remind ourselves of the promise of Christmas.
My hope and prayer is that each person can experience the coming of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and that His precious gifts of joy, peace, and love will fill our hearts and reign over our homes and communities.
No doubt, much in our world today can rob us of peace. The recent years of crisis in the Church have shaken the hearts of the Faithful and stolen the peace that comes with the practice of faith. In society, too many remain hungry and homeless. Many struggle to make ends meet. Too many are questioning the meaning of life and are led astray by false gods like money, power, alcohol and drugs. Too many of our young people are lost and searching to find the truth. The song of the angels reminds us that the answer already resonates in the world and in our hearts: Jesus is born! Be not afraid! We need Him. We need His grace and mercy. We need His peace.
It is my fervent prayer this Christmas that we can reclaim this peace and enthrone the Prince of Peace, our Savior, again in our hearts and in our homes. Then, this gentle Prince can renew the spirit of good will among all peoples, helping us bring an end to division and acrimony, harsh words and unkind actions. When we heed the words of Saint Paul and “let the peace of Christ rule our hearts” (Colossians 3:15), then the song of the angels and the message of the shepherds will sound forth again in our time, not just at Christmas but throughout the entire new year to come.
May your homes and hearts overflow with the richest blessings of our Savior’s birth! As we gather together at Christmas Mass, may our voices raised in the angelic song ring out like the joyful sound of Christmas bells: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: / “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; / The Wrong shall fail, / The Right prevail, / With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer
Bishop of Harrisburg