Dear Brothers and Sisters
The novena of the Holy Birth that we are living these days is
a liturgical itinerary that supports us in our effort to prepare for the
celebration of the great "event" that took place twenty centuries ago:
it invites us to meditate on the profound aspects of the mystery of the
Incarnation and to welcome it in our life.
We are preparing to live an extraordinary event during Christmas of this
year 1999. Indeed, on Christmas Eve, which is upon us, the Great Jubilee
of the Year 2000 will begin, for which the Church has been preparing
with faith for a long time, and this gives additional vigor to our
At the end of this time of Advent, the liturgy highlights the
expectation of the whole of creation. It is as if after 2000 years,
creation felt renewed joy at the arrival of him who in his fullness even
more perfectly restores the primordial harmony upset by sin.
2. Dearest Brothers and Sisters! Let us begin to live the saving event
of Christmas with intense participation, by beginning the Jubilee Year
with profound joy. In the poverty of the manger let us contemplate the
great "event" of the Incarnation: God became man to come to each one of
us. Let us allow this great mystery to transform our existence during
the whole time of grace of the Jubilee. Let us relive the moving and
exalting experience of the shepherds, who promptly welcomed the
announcement brought by the angels, and went without delay to adore the
Savior, thus becoming the first witnesses of his presence in the world.
3. The Virgin Mary, who was the first to prepare a worthy dwelling for
the promised Messiah and continues to give him to the world today,
teaches us to open -- more than that -- to open wide the doors of our
heart to the message of light and peace of Christmas.
With such sentiments and in the context of spiritual joy for the
imminent opening of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, it gives me
pleasure to wish each one of you my most affectionate best wishes,
extending these heartfelt sentiments to all those oppressed by
suffering, to those who must bear the heavy consequences of war, and
those who find themselves in particular difficulties. I hope that,
during the coming festivities, all will experience comfort from the
Lord's presence, expressed by significant acts of love and solidarity.