TUESDAY
March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47

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THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS         INTRODUCTION

    Today we bring you, in preparation for Lent which begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, the second of a two part installment containing the Holy Father's Papal Lenten Message for the universal Church for this Jubilee Year 2000. It was first released on January 27th this year and we saved it until the beginning of this week in which the Pope emphasizes the theme of reconciliation as part of the conversion process which will have its emphasis next Sunday on "Mea Culpa" Sunday during the First Sunday of Lent. This is the same message the Blessed Virgin Mary has been imparting at Medjugorje and elsewhere in doing penance, sacrifice, fasting and prayer in order to convert our hearts and forgive so that we may be forgiven as God asks of all of His children. Following is the second of a two part installment with part one having been carried in yesterday's issue. The full English text was translated and provided by ZENIT news agency.


The Holy Father's Lenten Message for 2000
part two

"I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28: 20).

    5. The path of conversion leads to reconciliation with God and to fullness of new life in Christ. A life of faith, hope and love. These three virtues, known as the "theological" virtues because they refer directly to God in His mystery, have been the subject of special study during the three years of preparation for the Great Jubilee. The celebration of the Holy Year now calls every Christian to live and bear witness to these virtues in a fuller and more conscious way. The grace of the Jubilee above all impels us to renew our personal faith. This consists in holding fast to the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery, through which believers recognize that in Christ crucified and risen from the dead they have been given salvation. Day by day they offer Him their lives; they accept everything that the Lord wills for them, in the certainty that God loves them. Faith is the "yes" of individuals to God, it is their "Amen". For Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, Abraham is the exemplar of the believer: trusting in the promise, he follows the voice of God calling him to set out on unknown paths. Faith helps us to discover the signs of God's loving presence in creation, in people, in the events of history and above all in the work and message of Christ, as He inspires people to look beyond themselves, beyond appearances, towards that transcendence where the mystery of God's love for every creature is revealed.

        Through the grace of the Jubilee, the Lord likewise invites us to renew our hope. In fact, time itself is redeemed in Christ and opens up to a prospect of unending joy and full communion with God. For Christians, time is marked by an expectation of the eternal wedding feast, anticipated daily at the Eucharistic table. Looking forward to the eternal banquet "the Spirit and Bride say 'Come'" (Revelation/Apocalypse 22:17), nurturing the hope that frees time from mere repetition and gives it its real meaning. Through the virtue of hope, Christians bear witness to the fact that, beyond all evil and beyond every limit, history bears within itself a seed of good which the Lord will cause to germinate in its fullness. They therefore look to the new millennium without fear, and face the challenges and expectations of the future in the confident certainty which is born of faith in the Lord's promise.

        Through the Jubilee, finally, the Lord asks us to rekindle our charity. The Kingdom which Christ will reveal in its full splendour at the end of time is already present where people live in accordance with God's will. The Church is called to bear witness to the communion, peace and charity which are the Kingdom's distinguishing marks. In this mission, the Christian community knows that faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:17). Thus, through charity, Christians make visible God's love for man revealed in Christ, and make manifest Christ's presence in the world "to the close of the age." For Christians, charity is not just a gesture or an ideal but is, so to speak, the prolongation of the presence of Christ who gives himself.

        During Lent, everyone - rich and poor - is invited to make Christ's love present through generous works of charity. During this Jubilee Year our charity is called in a particular way to manifest Christ's love to our brothers and sisters who lack the necessities of life, who suffer hunger, violence or injustice. This is the way to make the ideals of liberation and fraternity found in the Sacred Scripture a reality, ideals which the Holy Year puts before us once more. The ancient Jewish jubilee, in fact, called for the freeing of slaves, the cancellation of debts, the giving of assistance to the poor. Today, new forms of slavery and more tragic forms of poverty afflict vast numbers of people, especially in the so-called Third World countries. This is a cry of suffering and despair which must be heard and responded to by all those walking the path of the Jubilee. How can we ask for the grace of the Jubilee if we are insensitive to the needs of the poor, if we do not work to ensure that all have what is necessary to lead a decent life?

        May the millennium which is beginning be a time when, finally, the cry of countless men and women our brothers and sisters who do not have even the minimum necessary to live is heard and finds a benevolent response. It is my hope that Christians at every level will become promoters of practical initiatives to ensure an equitable distribution of resources and the promotion of the complete human development of every individual.

    6. "I am with you always, to the close of the age." These words of Jesus assure us that in proclaiming and living the Gospel of charity we are not alone. Once again, during this Lent of the year 2000, He invites us to return to the Father, Who is waiting for us with open arms to transform us into living and effective signs of His merciful love. To Mary, Mother of all who suffer and Mother of Divine Mercy, we entrust our intentions and our resolutions. May she be the bright star on our journey in the new millennium. With these sentiments I invoke upon everyone the blessings of God, One and Triune, the beginning and the end of all things, to Whom we raise "to the close of the age" the hymn of blessing and praise in Christ: "Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

      From Castel Gandolfo, 21 September 1999
      IOANNES PAULUS II


              

March 6, 2000
volume 10, no. 46
THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

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