Bishop William K. Weigand of the Salt Lake Roman Catholic Diocese issued his annual Christmas message this week, calling on Utahns to pray for peace in the world and work for the same in their own lives.

"Peace on earth, good will to all."Ever since these words rang out over a barren Palestinian hillside 2,000 years ago, the Christmas season has been one of special hope and prayer for a peace-filled world. And yet we are balanced precariously between war and peace in the Persian Gulf.

"These very lands gave rise to the original Wisemen, the Magi that came out of the Orient seeking the Prince of Peace. At this season we should surely pray that God raise up new wise men, give new counsel to leaders in the Persian Gulf, as well as to our own.

"Does the angels' song of `peace on earth' have any but sentimental meaning? For too many, Christmas is but a pause in the real business of life, the business of competition, aggression, the effort to push one's way to the top. Who will change these human tendencies? `And a little child shall lead them.' (Isaiah 11:6).

"Contrary to our expectations and propensity to use of force, God comes into our darkened world gift-wrapped as a baby. Surely there is a lesson for us in the manner of our Savior's birth.

"Jesus comes quietly, unknown, born in humbleness. The transformation of the world begins in gentleness, quietness, our Savior slipping into our world secretly. Jesus does not force himself upon an unwilling world. He offers his radical love, offers us the chance to set aside our hate, our selfishness, our violence - in a most seductive way, one by one, a single person at a time . . .

"One thing is certain: the child born on Christmas night can come into our lives and tame the wild beast within each of us. The infant Savior can also bring peace between us. Not as Lord of the cosmos but as an approachable child, Jesus wishes to take our hand in his and walk with us into the future, a future not filled with fear and war, but with hope and peace.

"Will 1991 be more hopeful and peaceful than the past? Who can predict? It will depend on each and all of us. It is for us to entrust our hearts, families and our world into God's hands; to pray that our leaders make world history with wisdom and good counsel; to allow the Savior to transform each of us."