January 2000

Wednesday 5 January 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. A few days after the opening of the Great Jubilee, I am pleased today to begin the first General Audience of 2000 by offering my most cordial wishes for the Jubilee Year to everyone here: may it truly be a special time of grace, reconciliation and interior renewal.

This past year, the final one dedicated to immediate preparation for the Jubilee, we reflected together on the mystery of the Father. Today, at the end of that series of reflections and as a special introduction to the catecheses of the Holy Year, let us once again lovingly consider the person of Mary.

In her, the "beloved daughter of the Father" (Lumen gentium
LG 53), the divine plan of love for humanity was manifested. Destining her to become the mother of his Son, the Father chose her from among all creatures and raised her to the highest dignity and mission in the service of his people.

The Father's plan begins to be revealed in the "Protoevangelium", when, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God announces that he will put enmity between the serpent and the woman: it will be the woman's son who will crush the serpent's head (cf. Gn 3,15).

The promise begins to be fulfilled at the Annunciation, when Mary is given the proposal to become the Mother of the Saviour.

2. "Rejoice, full of grace" (Lc 1,28). The first word that the Father speaks to Mary through his angel is a form of greeting which can be understood as an invitation to joy, an invitation that echoes the one addressed by the prophet Zechariah to the entire people of Israel: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Lo, your king comes to you" (Za 9,9 cf. also So 3,14-18). With this first word addressed to Mary, the Father reveals his intention to communicate true and definitive joy to humanity. The Father's own joy, which consists in having his Son beside him, is offered to everyone, but it is first of all entrusted to Mary so that it may spread from her throughout the human community.

3. For Mary, the invitation to rejoice is linked to the special gift she received from the Father: "Full of grace". The Greek expression "kecharitoméne" is often translated, and not without reason, as "filled with grace": it is, in fact, an abundance that reaches the highest degree.

We can see that the expression sounds as if it were Mary's very name, the "name" given to her by the Father from the beginning of her existence. From the moment of conception, in fact, her soul was filled with every blessing, enabling her to live in outstanding holiness throughout her earthly life.

2 Mary's face reflects the mysterious face of the Father. The infinite tenderness of God-Love is revealed in the maternal features of Jesus' Mother.

4. Mary is the only mother who can say "my son" when speaking of Jesus, just as the Father says: "You are my Son" (
Mc 1,11). For his part, Jesus calls the Father "Abba", "Dad" (cf. Mc 14,36), while he calls Mary "Mama", putting all his filial affection into this name.

After leaving his mother in Nazareth, when he later meets her, he calls her "woman" to emphasize that he now takes orders from the Father alone and to declare that she is not just a biological mother, but has a mission to fulfil as the "Daughter of Zion" and the mother of the people of the New Covenant. As such, Mary's goal is always to comply fully with the Father's will.

This was not the case with all of Jesus' family. The fourth Gospel reveals to us that his relatives "did not believe in him" (Jn 7,5), and Mark says that "they went out to seize him, for they said, "He is beside himself'" (Mc 3,21). We can be sure that Mary's inner thoughts were completely different.

We are assured of this in the Gospel of Luke, in which Mary presents herself as the humble "handmaid of the Lord" (Lc 1,38). It is in this light that we should understand Jesus' answer when "he was told: "Your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you'" (Lc 8,20 cf. Mt 12,46-47 Mc 3,32); Jesus replied: "My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it" (Lc 8,21). Mary, in fact, is a model of listening to the Word of God (cf. Lc 2,19) and of docility to it.

5. The Virgin maintained and perseveringly renewed the total willingness she had expressed at the Annunciation. The immense privilege and sublime mission of being the Mother of God's Son did not change her humble submission to the Father's plan. Among the other aspects of this divine plan, she took up the educational task that her motherhood entailed. A mother not only gives birth, but is also actively involved in the formation and development of her child's personality. Mary's behaviour certainly influenced Jesus' conduct. One can think, for example, that the act of washing feet (cf. Jn 13,4-5), left to the disciples as an example to follow (cf. Jn 13,14-15), reflects what Jesus himself had seen since childhood in Mary's behaviour when she washed their guests' feet in a spirit of humble service.

According to Gospel testimony, during the time he spent in Nazareth, Jesus was "obedient" to Mary and Joseph (cf. Lc 2,51). He thus received from Mary a true education that shaped his humanity. On the other hand, Mary let herself be influenced and formed by her Son. In Jesus' gradual manifestation, she discovered the Father more and more profoundly and offered him homage with all the love of her daughterly heart. Her task now is to help the Church to walk in Christ's footsteps as she did.
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To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I cordially welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present, and I pray that your visit to Rome will help you to live a grace- filled Jubilee Year. God bless you all!

The Holy Father appealed for peace in the Moluccas, where deadly clashes have recently broken out.

May Bethlehem's message of peace, which in the past few days the Church has once again proclaimed to the whole world, resound loudly in the places tried by natural disasters or wars, especially in the Moluccas, where in recent weeks the ethnic and religious conflict, which has afflicted those Indonesian islands for some time, has again flared up in deadly clashes.

"Peace on earth to those whom God loves"! May this message, welcomed by every heart, break the chain of revenge, heal the wounds of hatred and, by definitively removing the temptation of violence, spur Christians and Muslims to see themselves as members of one human family and to rebuild harmonious relations with one another in justice and forgiveness.

Wednesday 12 January 2000


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Completing our reflection on Mary at the end of the series of catecheses devoted to the Father, today we want to stress her role in our journey to the Father.

He himself desired Mary's presence in salvation history. When he decided to send his Son into the world, he wanted him to come to us by being born of a woman (cf.
Ga 4,4). Thus he willed that this women, the first to receive his Son, should communicate him to all humanity.

Mary is therefore found on the path that leads from the Father to humanity as the mother who gives the Saviour Son to all. At the same time, she is on the path that human beings must take in order to go to the Father through Christ in the Spirit (cf. Ep 2,18).

2. To understand Mary's presence on our journey to the Father, we must recognize with all the Churches that Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14,6) and the only Mediator between God and men (cf. 1Tm 2,5). Mary is involved in Christ's unique mediation and is totally at its service. Consequently, as the Council stressed in Lumen gentium: "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power" (LG 60). In no way do we state that Mary has a role in the Church's life apart from Christ's mediation or alongside it, as if it were a parallel or competing mediation.

As I expressly said in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Mary's maternal mediation "is mediation in Christ" (RMA 38). The Council explains: "The Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men originates not in any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but, on the contrary, fosters it" (Lumen gentium LG 60).

Mary too was redeemed by Christ and is indeed the first of the redeemed, since the grace granted to her by God the Father at the beginning of her existence is owed to "the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race", as affirmed by the Bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pius IX (DS 2803). All of Mary's cooperation in salvation is founded on Christ's mediation, which, as the Council clearly states, "does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source" (Lumen gentium LG 62).

Viewed in this way, Mary's mediation appears as the most sublime fruit of Christ's mediation and is essentially directed to bringing us into a more intimate and profound encounter with him: "The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which she constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that, encouraged by this maternal help, they may more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer" (ibid. LG 62).

4 3. Mary, in fact, does not want to draw attention to herself. She lived on earth with her gaze fixed on Jesus and the heavenly Father. Her greatest desire is to focus everyone's attention in the same direction. She wants to encourage a vision of faith and hope in the Saviour sent to us by the Father.

Her gaze of faith and hope was particularly exemplary when, in the turmoil of her Son's passion, she kept in her heart a total faith in him and in the Father. While the disciples were bewildered by the events and their faith deeply shaken, Mary, although tried by sorrow, remained completely certain that Jesus' prediction would be fulfilled: "The Son of man ... will be raised on the third day" (
Mt 17,22-23). A certitude that never left her, even when she held in her arms the lifeless body of her crucified son.

4. With this vision of faith and hope, Mary encourages the Church and believers always to fulfil the Father's will revealed to us by Christ.

What she told the servants for the miracle at Cana reverberates for every generation of Christians: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

Her advice was followed when the servants filled the jars to the brim. Mary addresses the same invitation to us. She urges us to enter this new period of history with the intention of carrying out whatever Christ said in the Gospel on the Father's behalf and now intimates to us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

If we do what Christ tells us, the millennium now begun can take on a new aspect, one more evangelical and authentically Christian, and thus fulfil Mary's deepest longing.

5. The words "Do whatever he tells you" direct us to Christ, but they also remind us that we are on our way to the Father. They coincide with the Father's voice heard on the mount of the Transfiguration: "This is my beloved Son ... listen to him" (Mt 17,5). This same Father, through the word of Christ and the light of the Holy Spirit, calls us, guides us and waits for us.

Our holiness consists in doing everything the Father tells us. And this is the value of Mary's life: the fulfilment of God's will. Accompanied and supported by Mary, we gratefully receive the new millennium from the Father's hands and commit ourselves to responding to its grace with humble and generous devotion.
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I warmly greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present, especially those from Norway, Japan and the United States of America. I entrust you and your families to the protection of Mary, who is “a sign of sure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God” (Lumen gentium LG 68), and I invoke upon you the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Wednesday 19 January 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. "O superessential Trinity, infinitely divine and good, guardian of the divine wisdom of Christians, lead us beyond all light and everything unknown to the highest summit of the mystical Scriptures, where the simple, absolute and imperishable mysteries of theology are revealed in the luminous darkness of silence". With this prayer of Dionysius the Areopagite, an Eastern theologian (Theologia mystica, I, 1), we begin a difficult but fascinating journey of contemplating the mystery of God. After having reflected in the past few years on each of the three divine persons - the Son, the Spirit and the Father - in this Jubilee Year we intend to take a comprehensive look at the glory common to the Three who are one God "not in the unity of a single person but in the Trinity of one substance" (Preface for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity). This choice corresponds to what was suggested in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, which said that during the celebration phase of the Great Jubilee the aim would be "to give glory to the Trinity, from whom everything in the world and in history comes and to whom everything returns" (
TMA 55).

2. Taking our inspiration from an image offered by the Book of Revelation (cf. Ap 22,1), we could compare this journey to a pilgrimage along the banks of God's river, that is, of his presence and revelation in human history.

As a brief sketch of this journey, today we will dwell on the two extremities of that river: its source and its mouth, joining them in a single horizon. The divine Trinity, in fact, is at the very origins of existence and history and is present in their final goal. It constitutes the beginning and the end of salvation history. Between the two extremities, the garden of Eden (cf. Gn 2) and the tree of life in the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. Ap 22), flows a long history marked by darkness and light, by sin and grace. Sin has separated us from the splendour of God's paradise; redemption brings us back to the glory of a new heaven and a new earth, where "death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more" (ibid., Ap 21,4).

3. An initial view of this horizon is offered by the first page of Sacred Scripture, which indicates the moment when God's creative power makes the world out of nothing: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gn 1,1). This view is deepened in the New Testament, going back to the very heart of the divine life, when John proclaims at the beginning of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1,1). Before creation and as its foundation, revelation has us contemplate the mystery of the one God in the trinity of persons: the Father and his Word united in the Spirit.

The biblical author who wrote the creation text could not have suspected the depths of this mystery. Even less could mere philosophical reflection have attained it, since the Trinity is beyond the capacities of our understanding and can only be known through revelation.

Nevertheless, this mystery which infinitely transcends us is also the reality closest to us, because it is the very source of our being. For in God we "live and move and have our being" (Ac 17,28), and what St Augustine says of God must be applied to all three divine persons: he is "intimior intimo meo" (Conf.,3, 6, 11). In the depths of our being, where not even our gaze can penetrate, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, are present through grace. Far from being a dry intellectual truth, the mystery of the Trinity is the life that dwells in us and sustains us.

4. Our reflection in this Jubilee Year will take its themes from this Trinitarian life, which precedes and grounds creation. The mystery of the origins from which all things flow, God appears to us as the One who is the fullness of being and communicates being, as the light that "enlightens every man" (cf. Jn 1,9), as the Living One and giver of life. He appears to us above all as Love, according to the beautiful definition in the First Letter of John (cf. 1Jn 4,8). He is love in his inner life, where the Trinitarian dynamism is the very expression of the eternal love with which the Father begets the Son and both give themselves to each other in the Holy Spirit. He is love in his relationship to the world, since the free decision to make it out of nothing is the fruit of this infinite love which radiates into the sphere of creation. If the eyes of our heart, enlightened by revelation, become pure and penetrating enough, they can by faith encounter this mystery in which everything that exists has its root and foundation.

5. But as we mentioned at the beginning, the mystery of the Trinity also lies before us as the goal to which history is directed, as the homeland for which we long. Our reflection on the Trinity, in the various realms of creation and history, will look at this goal, which the Book of Revelation very powerfully points to as the seal of history.

This is the second and final part of God's river, which we referred to a few moments ago. In the heavenly Jerusalem the beginning and the end reconverge. For God the Father, who sits on the throne, appears and says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Ap 21,5). At his side is the Lamb, i.e., Christ, on his throne, with his light, with the book of life containing the names of the redeemed (cf. ibid., Ap 21,23 Ap 21,27 Ap 22,1 Ap 22,3). And see: at the end, in a gentle and intense dialogue, the Spirit who prays in us and with the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, says: "Come, Lord Jesus" (cf. ibid., Ap 22,17 Ap 22,20).

At the end of this first sketch of our long pilgrimage into the mystery of God, let us return then to the prayer of Dionysius the Areopagite, who reminds us of the need for contemplation: "It is really in silence that we learn the secrets of this darkness ... which shines with dazzling light.... While remaining completely intangible and invisible, it fills minds that know how to close their eyes with the most beautiful splendours" (Theologia mystica, I, 1).
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To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I warmly welcome the group of Bishops from the United States taking part in a seminar at the Pontifical North American College. I extend a special greeting to the students from Horsens, Denmark, from Loyola University of Chicago, and from the Augustinian High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Wednesday 26 January 2000


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. "How greatly to be desired are all his works, and how sparkling they are to see!... He has made nothing incomplete.... Who can have enough of beholding his glory? Though we speak much we cannot reach the end, and the sum of our words is: "He is the all'. Where shall we find strength to praise him? He is greater than all his works..." (
Si 42,22 Si 42,24-25 Si 43,27-28). With these words full of wonder, Sirach, a biblical sage, contemplated the splendour of creation and sang God's praises. It is a tiny piece of the thread of contemplation and meditation which runs throughout Sacred Scripture, from the first lines of Genesis when creatures, summoned by the powerful Word of the Creator, spring from the silence of nothingness.

"God said, "Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gn 1,3). In this part of the first account of creation the Word of God is already seen in action; John will say of him: "In the beginning was the Word ... the Word was God ... all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn 1,1-3). Paul will emphasize in the hymn in the Letter to the Colossians that "in him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1,16-17). But at the very first moment of creation the Spirit also seems to be foreshadowed: "the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Gn 1,2). The glory of the Trinity - we can say with Christian tradition - is resplendent in creation.

2. We can see in the light of Revelation how the creative act is appropriated in the first place to the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (Jc 1,17). He shines resplendently over the whole horizon, as the Psalmist sings: "O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! You have exalted your majesty above the heavens" (Ps 8,2). God "has made the world firm, not to be moved" (Ps 96,10), and as he faces nothingness, symbolized by the chaotic waters which lift up their voice, the Creator arises, giving firmness and safety: "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty" (Ps 93,3-4).

3. In Sacred Scripture creation is also often linked to the divine Word which breaks in and acts: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.... He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth.... He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly" (Ps 33,6). In the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament it is divine Wisdom personified that brings forth the universe, carrying out the plan God has in mind (cf. Pr 8,22-31). It has been said that in God's Word and Wisdom John and Paul saw the foretelling of the action of Christ "from whom are all things and for whom we exist" (1Co 8,6), because it is "through [Christ] also [that God] created the world" (He 1,2).

4. At other times Scripture stresses the role of God's Spirit in the act of creation: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104,30). The same Spirit is symbolically described as the breath of God's mouth. He gives life and consciousness to man (cf. Gn 2,7), and brings him back to life in the resurrection, as the prophet Ezekiel announces in an evocative passage where the Spirit is at work breathing life into dry bones (cf. Ez 37,1-14). This same breath subdues the waters of the sea at Israel's exodus from Egypt (cf. Ex 15,8 Ex 15,10). Again the Spirit regenerates the human creature, as Jesus will say in his night-time conversation with Nicodemus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn 3,5-6).

5. So, in beholding the glory of the Trinity in creation, man must contemplate, sing and rediscover wonder. In contemporary society people become indifferent "not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder" (G. K. Chesterton). For the believer, to contemplate creation is also to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice, as the "Psalm of the sun" suggests: "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Ps 19,1-5).

Nature thus becomes a gospel which speaks to us of God: "from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Sg 13,5). Paul teaches us that "ever since the creation of the world his [God's] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rm 1,20). But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in created things must lead us also to rediscover our kinship with the earth, to which we have been linked since our own creation (cf. Gn 2,7). This is precisely the goal which the Old Testament wished for the Hebrew Jubilee, when the land was at rest and man ate what the fields spontaneously gave him (cf. Lv 25,11-12). If nature is not violated and degraded, it once again becomes man's sister.
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To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, the Holy Father said:

I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, in particular to the group from Saint Denis Parish in Hanover, New Hampshire, and to the Chapman University Choir from Orange, California. I wish to assure the pilgrims from Seton Hall University that I have prayed for the dead and the injured in last week’s tragic fire at the University. Upon you all I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                                             February 2000

Wednesday 9 February 2000


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. As you have heard from the readers, our meeting opened with the "Great Hallel", Psalm
Ps 136 (135), which is a solemn litany for soloist and choir. It is sung to the hesed of God, that is, to his faithful love revealed through the events of salvation history, especially the deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the gift of the promised land. Israel's profession of faith in God (cf. Dt 26,5-9 Jos 24,1-13) proclaims God's actions in human history: the Lord is not an impassive emperor surrounded with a halo of light and relegated to the golden heavens; he sees the affliction of his people in Egypt, hears their cry and comes down to deliver them (cf. Ex 3,7-8).

2. Well, now we will try to explain God's presence in history in the light of the Trinitarian revelation which, although fulfilled completely in the New Testament, is already in some way anticipated and foreshadowed in the Old. We will begin then with the Father, whose features can already be glimpsed when God intervenes in history on behalf of the righteous who call upon him as a tender and loving father. He is "the father of orphans and the defender of widows" (Ps 68,6); he is also a father to his rebellious and sinful people.

Two prophetic texts, extraordinarily beautiful and intense, introduce a delicate soliloquy of God concerning his "degenerate children" (Dt 32,5). Through them God reveals his constancy and loving presence in the tangle of human history. In Jeremiah the Lord exclaims: "I am a father to Israel.... Is he not my favoured son, the child in whom I delight? Often as I threaten him, I still remember him with favour; my heart stirs for him, I must show him mercy" (Jr 31,9 Jr 31,20). The other wonderful confession by God can be read in Hosea: "When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called my son.... It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; and I bent down to them and fed them.... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender" (Os 11,1 Os 11,3-4 Os 11,8).

3. We must draw the conclusion from these biblical passages that God the Father is far from indifferent to what happens to us. Indeed, he even sends his Only-begotten Son into the heart of history, as Christ himself testifies in his night-time conversation with Nicodemus: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3,16-17). The Son enters into time and space as the living and life-giving centre that gives definitive meaning to the flow of history, saving it from dissipation and triviality. In particular, all humanity, with its joys and sorrows, its tormented history of good and evil, converges upon the Cross of Christ, source of salvation and eternal life: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32). The Letter to the Hebrews will proclaim Christ's perennial presence in history in one dazzling sentence: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8).

4. To discover this hidden yet effective presence in the flow of events, to discern the kingdom of God which is now in our midst (cf. Lc 17,21), we must look beyond the outward appearances of historical dates and events. Here the Holy Spirit comes into action. Even if the Old Testament does not yet offer an explicit revelation of his person, certain saving initiatives can certainly be "appropriated" to him. It is he who spurs the judges of Israel (cf. Jg 3,10), David (cf. 1S 16,13) and the Messiah King (cf. Is 11,1-2 Is 42,1), but above all he pours himself out in the prophets, whose mission is to reveal the divine glory hidden in history, the Lord's plan underlying the events of our lives. The prophet Isaiah offers a most effective passage, which will be taken up by Christ in his programmatic address at the synagogue of Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour" (Is 61,1-2 Lc 4,18-19).

5. The Spirit of God not only reveals the meaning of history, but instils the strength to cooperate with the divine plan that is fulfilled in it. In the light of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, history ceases to be a succession of events that fade into the abyss of death, but becomes a land made fruitful by the seed of eternity, a path leading to that sublime goal in which "God will be all in all" (1Co 15,28). The Jubilee, which calls to mind "the year of favour" announced by Isaiah and inaugurated by Christ, is intended to be the epiphany of this seed and this glory, so that everyone, sustained by God's presence, may hope in a new world which is more genuinely Christian and human.

May each of us then, in stammering something of the mystery of the Trinity at work in our history, make his own the adoring wonder of St Gregory of Nazianzus, theologian and poet, when he sings: "Glory to God the Father and the Son, King of the universe. Glory to the Spirit, worthy of praise and all-holy. The Trinity is the one God who created and filled all things ... giving life to all things by his Spirit, so that all creatures might sing praise to their wise Creator, the one cause of life and its duration. More than any other, may the rational creature always celebrate him as the great King and good Father" (Dogmatic Poems, XXI, Hymnus alias: PG 37,510-511).

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To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I extend a special welcome to the members of the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. I am confident that your visit to Rome will help to strengthen ecumenical relations between Catholics and Pentecostals. I greet the members of the Tamil Organization of Rome, who are celebrating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of their foundation. Upon all the pilgrims from England, Australia, Japan and the United States of America I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.