The Year 2000, a point of departure

Mankind has arrived at the Year 2000 of the Christian era. Few institutions throughout the course of history have been in existence for 20 centuries. But the Catholic Church has reached this milestone as a living and growing reality. Furthermore, it has reached the age of two thousand years while still in a state of germination, with the marvelous promise of “a new heaven and a new earth.”[1] For it continues being the mysterious prelude of the Kingdom in which it will find its definitive form. “Christ is the Lord of time; he is its beginning and its end; every year, every day and every moment are embraced by his incarnation and resurrection, and thus become part of the ‘fullness of time.’”[2]

The year 2000 is above all a year of the Lord’s favor,[3] an important stage in the time of salvation, which brings us true life. The mystery of Christ comes to meet humanity with new vigor, and with him comes his all-powerful grace.

From the first moment of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II has not ceased to focus attention on Christ’s central role in the scenario of the year 2000. It is Christ who gives meaning to the crucial moment of this new century and millennium. It is he who guarantees the victory of his Kingdom,[4] even in the face of the current symptoms of religious and moral crisis. “If we look at today’s world,” wrote the Pope almost a decade ago, “we are struck by many negative factors that can lead to pessimism. But this feeling is unjustified: we have faith in God, our Father and Lord, in his goodness and mercy. As the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs.”[5]

The history of salvation begins again at every moment. For individuals, for peoples, for cultures, it is always a time to let oneself be given new life through the grace of Christ. And this is true of the year 2000 in a special way. “Christian life is a continuous beginning again each day. It renews itself over and over.”[6] Therefore the bimillennium of Christ cannot be just a beautiful anniversary which leaves an emotional memory in one’s soul; it must instead be the fruitful occasion of a new spiritual stimulus.

This is what we have been preparing for during the past three years, following the clear path mapped out for us by the Pope through his teaching and example. The years of preparation for the Jubilee have been a spiritual journey leading Christians and the Church to this most favorable time, which should produce a firm resolution of conversion in the heart of each one of us. “The period of the Jubilee introduces us to the vigorous language which the divine pedagogy of salvation uses to lead man to conversion and penance. These are the beginning and the path of man’s healing, and the necessary condition for him to recover what he could never attain by his own strength: God’s friendship and grace, the supernatural life, which alone can bring fulfillment to the deepest aspirations of the human heart.”[7]

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, rather than a momentary celebration, is a point of departure. The future is opening up before Christians like a path cleared constantly by grace, leading to an ever fuller incorporation of Christ’s life in our own lives. This presents us with a supernatural challenge that we have to confront eagerly: a stretch of time that we have to fill with Christ, the “plenitude of time.” We Christians know that we have been made free by our faith, and our personal freedom finds its natural channel in the eager effort to unite all things in [Christ].[8] “We know that we have to renew the world in the spirit of Jesus Christ, that we have to place our Lord at the summit and at the heart of all things.”[9]

[1] Rev 21:1.

[2] Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Nov. 10, 1994, no. 10.

[3] Ibid., no. 14. Cf. Is 61:2.

[4] Cf. Jn 16:33.

[5] Pope John Paul II, Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, December 7, 1990, no. 86

[6] Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, no. 114.

[7] Pope John Paul II, Bull, Incarnationis Mysterium, November 29, 1998, no. 2.

[8] Eph 1:10.

[9] Blessed Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, no. 678.

Romana, n. 29, July-December 1999, p. 176-177.

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