The Celebration Of The Jubilee In The Year 2000
On the occasion of the dawning of the new millennium, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has declared that the people of God dispersed throughout all the nations of the world should strive to prepare themselves for the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. In doing so, he has asked all local Churches to commemorate this auspicious Jubilee in varied ways that seek to heighten the awareness of God's people to the importance of this pivotal moment in history.
As human beings, the concept of time is essential for us. It is the way we mark off our existence. We count minutes, days and years as a measure of our lives and we can only come to understand the meaning of life through a reflection on our own history. Jesus Christ was born in time, and his coming has forever separated the way we mark time as a society. His birth has signified a new age, and we count the years of our lives and our culture from the day of his coming.
Because time is holy and essential to human understanding, we divide up time into segments that are meaningful. These segments of time are like temporal milestones that invite us to reflect upon how far we have come. As we grow older, certain ages carry a unique significance for us because they represent rites of passage and movement. At 13, you become a teenager. At 16, you get your driver's license. At 21, you may drink alcohol. And then there are, of course, the big "Three O", "Four O", "Five O", "Six O", etc.
Looking beyond individual milestones, we also commemorate the number of years which we spend involved in a variety of human activities. We honor those who have struggled through years of marriage, or who have given of themselves in years of public service. We celebrate institutions that have stood firmly against the test of time, and we commemorate anniversaries of both joyful and tragic moments of our history with elaborate ritual. It wasn't too long ago that as Americans, we remembered with pride the 200th anniversary of the birth of our republic and honored those who gave and continue to give their lives to keep that dream alive.
But as we approach the year 2000, we commemorate something greater than the events our own lives, or even the events of our nation. It is a celebration more noble than any other anniversary, because this jubilee makes the whole Christian world stop and realize that as a people we have carried in our hearts the name of Jesus Christ for two millennia. We have passed the power of that name down from mouth to ear to mouth to ear - from one generation to the next - century over century. We have told this story over and over and now it is time to pass this milestone together and step into the next millennium full of hope, promise and expectation.
Therefore, it is supremely fitting that the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ should be celebrated as an extraordinary Great Jubilee, considering the critical significance of his birth, not only for Christians, but for all humanity.
Christ yesterday, today, forever!
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