S. John Paul II Homil. 672



Saint Peter's Basilica

Thursday, 12 December 1996

1. “Shower, O heavens, from above” (Rorate caeli).

Advent is expressed in this supplication taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah. “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; ... let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth” (cf. Is Is 45,8).

These are words of the prophet Isaiah. He is referring to the situation of his homeland, and from his observation of the parched land that needs water to blossom, he draws the analogy that expresses his people's expectation: the expectation of the promised Messiah, the Saviour of Israel. Isaiah knows that the fulfilment of the promise can only come “from above”, from God, like the rain that falls from the clouds. At the same time, in a no less precise way, the prophet foretells that the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, will be born on earth, as the blessed fruit of the root of Jesse, according to the Lord's promise. He will come among the Chosen People and will be the fulfilment of that great “advent” that is the Old Covenant.

In the first reading, God speaks to his people: “Fear not, I will help you.... I will help you ... your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 41,13-14). “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I, the Lord, ... will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Is 41,17-18). Thanks to this providential irrigation, the desert will bloom and produce fruit in abundance.

This metaphor, eloquent for those who have visited the desert areas of Palestine, recalls another harvest, the harvest of souls. The awaited Messiah will change the destiny of the people of Israel and of humanity: he will be able to draw an abundant harvest of the redeemed from a sterile desert.

The responsorial psalm proclaims the goodness and mercy of God on all that he created: “all your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power” (Ps 145 [144]:10-11).

673 As happens a number of times during Advent, the Gospel passage presents the figure of John the Baptist. It is Jesus himself who speaks of him to the crowd: “Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt 11,11). And he adds: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force” (Mt 11,12). John the Baptist prepared the people for the kingdom of God, however only those who follow Christ become members of it. And this not without “violence” against one’s own passions and the forces of evil. It is these peaceful “men of violence” who conquer the kingdom for themselves, for others, for the world.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, today we renew the traditional Advent appointment with the students of Rome universities. I am pleased to see you here and I am glad to observe that the students are accompanied by an ever-increasing number of rectors and professors of the Roman and Italian universities.

I cordially greet you all: the Cardinal Vicar, the Viceregent, the various academic authorities, the chaplains of the university groups and their assistants. I greet you all, dear university students, both men and women. Our meeting today, to which I attach great importance, has become, in a way, an appointment with the whole university world of Italy. I brought with me the custom of meeting the university students of Kraków, where the university apostolate developed in difficult times, times during which the Marxist regime was making a systematic effort to spread atheism. The Church, through her pastoral service, promoted Christian values and the dimension of faith, hope and charity in the universities and among the young people. “My most memorable experience of that period”, I wrote in my book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, “was the discovery of the fundamental importance of youth. What is youth? It is not only a period of life that corresponds to a certain number of years, it is also a time given by Providence to every person and given to him as a responsibility. During that time he searches, like the young man in the Gospel, for answers to basic questions; he searches not only for the meaning of life but also for a concrete way to go about living his life. This is the most fundamental characteristic of youth” (PP 120-121).

3. The aim of this annual meeting, that prepares us to live Christmas intensely, is the deepening of our Christian awareness and consequently of our behaviour.

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means that we are intimately marked with the mystery of Christ: Christianus alter Christus. It means that we are aware of the redemption carried out by Christ. Each one of us is a redeemed person. Redeemed are our souls and our bodies. Redeemed are marriage and the family; peoples and nations. And human work, both physical and intellectual is redemeed, as also is social life, culture, politics. The Second Vatican Council, in the Constitution Gaudium et spes, stressed this very strongly. To be a Christian means to share in the mystery of the redemption, to live it in all aspects of human life and vocation.

What then does it mean to live the mystery of the redemption as a university student, as a university lecturer, as an educator? What does it mean to live it as engaged couples, as married couples, as persons that Christ calls to the priesthood or to the consecrated life? What does it mean to live the mystery of the redemption in every profession and field of employment? The university apostolate wishes to provide answers to these questions. Before our Advent meeting, I met representatives of the university pastoral workers of Rome to sense the atmosphere in the various academic areas. This is an essential dialogue, that must spread and be more deeply studied.

I am saying this as the Bishop of Rome, but at the same time as a priest who, over a period of 50 years of ministry, has had the chance to experience the value of the youth apostolate: it requires a great deal of sacrifice, but it brings great joy.

4. In particular, it is a matter of working in the delicate area of the formation of young people in culture. It is precisely on culture that the Church in Italy is focusing her attention for a widespread revival of pastoral activity. But, as I recalled at the Ecclesial Convention of Palermo, the generating nucleus of every authentic culture is formed from its approach to the mystery of God, in which the social order centred on personal dignity and responsibility has its ultimate foundation. And it is starting from this that we must contribute to the establishment of a culture that is soundly anchored in the values of the Gospel.

Dear university students, you are the living energy of such a cultural project, its freshness and its future. May your commitment to study, to cultural and scientific research, find meaningful unity in the promotion of a new humanism, to build a new society.

I wish here to express my satisfaction to you, students, for the journey that you have begun in preparation for your second diocesan convention to be held next April on the theme “The Gospel and culture in the university”. Dear young people, give your contribution generously and, together with your teachers, dedicate much space to the reflection and study of these themes. You will thus be a living part of these processes of cultural elaboration that must characterize the life of the university and you will be able to make a solid and convincing profile of your commitment in this journey of human and Christian growth emerge. The initiative of the University Theological Weeks is a beginning and a precious contribution in this direction; I encourage you to participate in it with that passion for truth that stimulates the intellect and opens onto vaster horizons.

In this perspective the features of the chaplaincies that have always accompanied the spiritual care of university communities are enriched. They become more fully authentic pastoral centres of cultural and spiritual growth. Consider this reality as yours, dear university students of Rome, enliven it with your presence, motivate its vitality, open it to encounters and cultural confrontation. The lamp that I will give to the representatives of your chaplaincies at the end of today’s celebration is a sign of and commitment to this renewal that you must pursue together.

674 I would like to recall here another appointment that concerns you. It is the meeting of young people in Paris, next August, for the World Youth Day. There, in the capital of modernity, together we will give testimony to the splendour of the truth that emanates from the light of Christ. In this regard, I am pleased to greet the group of French university students who are studying in Rome and who wished to be here with us this evening.

5. “Shower, O heavens, from above; ... let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth” (cf. Is
Is 45,8). These words are addressed to each one of us; they are the wish for the Church that is in Rome, for the ecclesial community of the university environment. May this “earth” which is all of us — men and women of the Year of the Lord 1996 —open once again and bring forth the Saviour on the night of Christmas. May the Lord come into the world, as he came almost 2,000 years ago to Bethlehem. May men, especially those who live in the university world, hear the words: “I bring you good news of a great joy ... for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour” (cf. Lk Lc 2,10-11). And, like the shepherds on the night of Bethlehem, may they go in great haste to adore him.



Sunday, 15 December 1996

1. “Gaudete in Domino semper. Iterum dico: Gaudete! ... Dominus prope”. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.... The Lord is at hand” (Ph 4,4-5). It is from these words taken from St Paul's letter to the Philippians, that this Sunday takes the liturgical name “Gaudete”. Today the liturgy urges us to rejoice because the birth of the Lord is approaching: in fact it is only 10 days away.

In his Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle exhorts us thus: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.... May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th 5,16-31).

This is a typical Advent exhortation. Advent is the liturgical season that prepares us for the Lord's birth, but it is also the time of expectation for the definitive return of Christ for the last judgement, and St Paul refers, in the first place, to this second coming. The very fact that the conclusion of the liturgical year coincides with the beginning of Advent suggests that “the beginning of the time of salvation” is in some way linked to the “end of time”. This exhortation typical of Advent always applies: “The Lord is at hand!”.

2. In today’s liturgy the prospect of Christ’s coming at Christmas, so near now, seems to prevail. The echo of joy at the Messiah’s birth resounds in the Magnificat, the canticle that wells up in Mary during her visit to the elderly wife of Zechariah. Elizabeth greets Mary with the words: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lc 1,43-45). Advanced in age and by now beyond all hope of possible motherhood, Elizabeth had realized that the extraordinary grace granted her was closely linked to the divine plan of salvation. The son who was to be born of her had been foreseen by God as the Precursor called to prepare the way for Christ (cf. Lk Lc 1,76) And Mary replies with the words of the Magnificat, repeated in the responsorial psalm today: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.... He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Lc 1,46-49).

3. John the Baptist is one of the most significant biblical figures we meet during this important season of the liturgical year. In the fourth Gospel we read: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light” (Jn 1,6-8). To the question “Who are you?”, John the Baptist responds: “I am not the Christ”, nor Elijah, nor any other of the prophets (cf. Jn Jn 1,19-20). And faced with the insistence of those sent from Jerusalem, he says: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (Jn 1,23).

With this quote from Isaiah, in a certain sense he reveals his identity and clarifies his special role in the history of salvation. And when the representatives of the Sanhedrin ask him why he is baptizing, although he is neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor any other prophet, he answers: “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (Jn 1,26-27).

John the Baptist’s witness re-echoes in the Advent verse: “The Lord is at hand!”. The different perspectives of the night of Bethlehem and the baptism in the Jordan converge in the same truth: we must shake off our inertia and prepare the way of the Lord who comes.

675 4. Dear brothers and sisters of the parish of Our Lady of Valme, I am pleased to celebrate the Eucharist with you on this Third Sunday of Advent! I affectionately greet the Cardinal Vicar, the new Auxiliary Bishop of the Western Sector, Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, your parish priest and his assistants, both priests and laity, of the Obra de la Iglesia. From its beginning your parish was entrusted to this religious family, whose foundress, Mother Trinidad Sánchez Moreno, I greet. This year, on 7 December, she celebrated her 50th anniversary of religious life.

This day of celebration permits us all to give thanks to God for this beautiful church, recently opened and dedicated to Our Lady of Valme. “Valme”, as is well known, is an invocation in Spanish that dates to the 13th century, when King St Ferdinand, in difficulty while attempting to reconquer Seville, asked the heavenly Mother for assistance: “Valimi, Signora”, “Help me, my Lady”. Since then many of the faithful in Spain and in other parts of the world continue to repeat “Valimi”, help me Mary, and be our support.

This morning we too turn with hope to the Blessed Virgin, entrusting her with the projects and hopes of your parish community. I am aware of your commitment in putting Mass and the adoration of the Eucharist at the centre of your parish life, as well as of your care for liturgical celebrations and your devotion to Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, which motivates you. I know the great faith that nourishes your heartfelt support of the Successor of Peter and your Bishops, as you strive to grow in fraternal charity and in the ardent desire to bring everyone the Gospel of Christ, the one Saviour of mankind.

I encourage you to continue on the path you have undertaken, as I congratulate you, among other things, for the initiative called “Linking Apartments”, an effective form of apostolic activity to make the inhabitants of your area feel the closeness of Jesus and of the ecclesial community.

5. This apostolic activity, as indeed all your other pastoral efforts, fits well into the city mission which involves all of Rome. Within the framework of its gradual development, it is planned that after Christmas every family in the city will be given a copy of Mark's Gospel. This Gospel contains the teachings of the Apostle Peter, of whom the Evangelist was the faithful disciple and interpreter right here in Rome. I have wished to accompany this gift with a letter in which I personally as it were offer this Gospel text to all Romans.

My hope is that the Good News of Christ will enter every home and help families to rediscover that only in Christ can man find salvation. In him it is possible to find the interior peace, hope and strength necessary to face life’s various situations each day, even those most onerous and difficult. In the letter accompanying the Gospel, I recalled that Jesus is not a figure of the past. He is the Word of God who even today continues to shed light on man’s path; his actions are the expression of the Father’s love for every human being.

6. “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favour from the Lord” (
Is 61,1-2).

In the synagogue of Nazareth, at the moment of beginning his public ministry, Christ will apply these words of the prophet Isaiah to himself. Today he repeats them for us during this liturgical assembly, and in repeating them he invites us to rejoice again with the words of Isaiah: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice” (Is 61,10).

The prophet’s joyful proclamation is echoed in what St Paul writes in the passage from his Letter to the Thessalonians we have just heard. Isaiah affirms: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord” (Is 61,10), and Paul exhorts: “Rejoice! The Lord is at hand!” (cf. Ph 4,4-5 1Th 5,16).

The Lord Jesus is at hand at every moment of our life. He is at hand if we consider him in the perspective of Christmas, but he is also at hand if we look at him on the banks of the Jordan when he officially receives his messianic mission from the Father; lastly, he is at hand in the perspective of his return at the end of time.

Christ is at hand! He comes by virtue of the Holy Spirit to announce the Good News; he comes to cure and to set free, to proclaim a time of grace and salvation, in order to begin, already on the night of Bethlehem, the work of the world’s redemption.

676 Let us therefore rejoice and exult! The Lord is at hand; he is coming to save us.




24 December 1996

1. “In the depths of the night a voice resounds” (Polish Christmas carol). In the first reading the Prophet Isaiah says: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9,1). The light shone because “to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Is 9,5).

The same Christmas carol identifies that voice in the night: “Come, shepherds, God is born for you; hasten to Bethlehem to greet the Lord”. It is the same voice which resounds in the passage of the Gospel of Luke just proclaimed: “In that region there were shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. The angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger’” (Lc 2,8-12).

The Christmas carol continues: “[The shepherds] set off, and in the manger they found the Child with all the signs which had foretold his birth. They adored him as God...”.

2. What St Luke wrote in the Gospel about the birth of the Lord Jesus has been translated into countless songs and works of literature; these make up the rich tradition inspired by Christmas. We bring this tradition with us when we come to Midnight Mass, also called the “Mass of the Shepherds”. At this hour, Bishops and priests throughout the world join me, the Bishop of Rome, in celebrating this Mass.

In every place liturgical and extra-liturgical songs are proclaiming the joy of the Lord’s birth. The angel says: Be not afraid, rejoice! The birth of a human being is always a source of great rejoicing (cf. Jn Jn 16,21). What great joy then must the birth of the God-Man bring! Isaiah says: “They rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest” (Is 9,2). A remarkable harvest! Behold, humanity is ripe for this moment when the Creator is born “of woman”. Man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen Gn 1,27), grows and journeys towards this God-Man, in whom he receives the gift of his own fulfilment and in whom, at the same time, all creation is raised to its fullness.

The responsorial psalm of this liturgy proclaims: “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day” (Ps 96,1-2). And a Christmas carol echoes: “Let all creation sing to its Lord”. This invitation to praise resounds with particular eloquence. Behold: all creation, which the Apostle Paul will describe as “waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rm 8,19), becomes a witness of the revelation of the Son of God in human flesh. At the same time, this is the beginning and the foundation of the revelation of those who have become sons and daughters of God by reason of the divine adoption to which all people are called.

What profound reasons for joy the Lord’s birth gives us!

3. St Paul also speaks of these reasons in the Second Reading: “The grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men” (Tt 2,11). The Son of God does not come into the world empty-handed. It is true that in the stable at Bethlehem he receives the gifts of the shepherds, but first he himself brings great gifts. His generosity is indescribable: “The loving Father offers us today ineffable gifts from heaven, as the Eternal Word becomes flesh, by his wondrous power” (Christmas carol).

677 Precisely that priceless gift which the Apostle calls “grace” — the gift of a share in the life of God, a universal gift, the opening of the path of eternal salvation — is the most profound source of Christmas joy.

With this joy in our hearts, we celebrate the solemn and beautiful night liturgy. We wish to join the choirs of angels who over the stable of Bethlehem are glorifying the Lord: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (
Lc 2,14). We pray today for everyone, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers alike. For we want to be faithful to the gift brought by God on Christmas night: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, made manifest for all humanity.

From this Basilica of St Peter’s, I send everyone a cordial greeting and I pray that this source of joy issuing forth in human history with the birth of the Son of God will be plentiful for all, so that each person may draw from it and quench his thirst. Yes, the fountain of salvation which God desires to offer to each human being has now been opened. It was for this very reason that he drew near to us and in his Son became like us: true God and true Man.

“God is born, man’s might is amazed. The Lord of heaven empties himself! The fire subsides, the splendour is veiled, the Infinite is encompassed” (F. Karpiński, Christmas ). On this night the frontiers of human existence are extended. The Son of God, taking upon himself man’s limitations, opens before our eyes the prospect of God’s infinity.

“Natus est hodie Salvator mundi”.

Today is born the Saviour of the world.

Come, let us adore him!



Tuesday, 31 December 1996

1. “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, ... so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Ga 4,4-5).

We have reached the end of a solar year: in a few hours 1996 will give way to the new year, after reaching, so to speak, its chronological fullness and the climax of the journey begun 366 days ago.

We could say that the expression “when the time had fully come” has a “historical” value because it reminds us that the year now ending is bringing us rapidly closer to the beginning of the third millennium. Nevertheless, with this phrase in the Letter to the Galatians St Paul wishes to call to mind a deeper dimension which refers to all that was fulfilled in the cave at Bethlehem: “God sent forth” into the world “his Son, born of woman” (Ga 4,4). The mysterious event of the Holy Night lives again in these words: the only-begotten and eternal Son of God “by the power of the Holy Spirit became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man” (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). He entered the history of mankind and, as it were, surpassed it.

678 Can God’s entry into history be otherwise defined than as a transcending of history itself? When God became man, time, in its sequence of years, centuries and millenniums, was brought into the dimension of divine eternity: in fact, by coming into the world through his Only-Begotten Son, God wanted to unite the dimensions of time and eternity. Referring to this, today’s liturgy makes us aware of a new vision: by the Incarnation of the Word, human time is called to share in the eternity of God.

2. How does all this happen? The reading from today’s Vespers answers this question: “God sent forth his Son” into the world, “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (
Ga 4,4-5). This is why the Word was made flesh and came to dwell among us, so that by welcoming him we might receive adoption as children.

In the Prologue of his Gospel, the Apostle John proclaims with wonder: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us To all who received him ... he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1,14 Jn 12). The Only-Begotten Son, one in being with the Father, comes into the world so that through sanctifying grace all people may be born again, for they have been called to the lofty privilege of being “filii in Filio”, sons in the Son, by divine adoption.

3. The Church professes this truth about the fullness of time and today wishes to proclaim it in an altogether unique way.

As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, whose mission is to proclaim the Gospel Urbi et Orbi, I have special reasons this evening to praise God for the “fullness of time” and for the salvation, which has been at work in the world through the Church's ministry. I have particular cause to thank the Lord for what is being accomplished by our ecclesial community, the heart of the universal Church, particularly in service to the city of Rome: in fact, she is sent in the first place to the citizens of Rome, as once the Apostles Peter and Paul were sent. Two thousand years have passed since then and in the span of these two millenniums the mandate conferred on the Church of Rome has yielded countless good fruits.

This evening, in this magnificent church located in the heart of Rome, we wish to mention in our thanksgiving every benefit wrought by God through the apostolic ministry, both in the universal Church and in our city. I would particularly like to thank the Lord for the results achieved in this year now ending, during which, as the second millennium draws to a close, we have begun our immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee.

4. I still have before my eyes the magnificent spectacle of the last Vigil of Pentecost. On that occasion, the various components of the Church in Rome, Bishops, priests, religious families and lay faithful, representing the entire People of God, solemnly began their immediate preparation for the Holy Year by starting the great city mission.

My thoughts likewise go to the parishes and communities which have experienced the grace of a Pastoral Visit during the current year: the parishes of St Anthony of Padua in Circonvallazione Appia, Pope St Cletus, St Julius, St Vincent Pallotti, St Mary Cause of our Joy, St Bibiana, Bl. Josemaría Escrivá and St Maddalena of Canossa in the first part of the year, and recently St Jerome Emiliani and Our Lady of Valme. So far 251 parishes have been visited and 77 are still waiting.

For these events and for your service to the Church of Rome, I thank the Cardinal Vicar and you, dear Brothers, the Auxiliary Bishops, together with the parish priests and curates and the other priests who work in our city. I thank the men and women religious as well as the lay people involved in various apostolic activities, and I extend a cordial and fraternal greeting to all. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the faithful of the Diocese of Rome. Thank you, brothers and sisters! Thank you, Roman families, “domestic churches” (cf. Lumen gentium LG 11), the first and basic cells of society! Thank you, members of the many communities, associations and movements involved in vitalizing our city’s Christian life!

I greet Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and the Jesuit priests who work in this church.

I likewise offer a cordial greeting to the civil authorities present and especially to the Mayor of Rome, whom I thank for the gift of the chalice which, according to a beautiful tradition, is repeated every year. I deeply hope that the commitment of all to give the city a face more consonant with the values of faith, culture and civilization that emanate from its vocation and its 2,000-year-old history, will never be lacking, particularly in view of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

679 5. Dear brothers and sisters, drawing further inspiration and encouragement from the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians recalled in this liturgy of Vespers, let us together serve the one cause of Redemption: since God sent his Only-Begotten Son so that we might receive adoption as children (cf. Gal Ga 4,5), there can be no greater task for us than to be totally at the service of the divine plan.

“My soul magnifies the Lord!” (Lc 1,46). May this canticle, which welled up in Mary’s heart as she visited St Elizabeth, become an expression of our thanksgiving today. The Church repeats it every day, recalling all the benefits which she is aware of having received. “And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lc 1,47). So the Church in Rome sings with Mary, rediscovering each day her weakness, but at the same time the wonders God works in her.

“For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lc 1,48-50).

We are here to proclaim the mercies wrought by the Lord during the year now ending. We are here to prepare ourselves, with hearts full of gratitude, to cross at midnight the threshold of 1997.

Te Deum laudamus...

We praise you, God, we acclaim you as the Lord.

O everlasting Father, all the world bows down before you

Have mercy on us Lord, have mercy on us. In you we put our trust:

We shall not be put to shame.



S. John Paul II Homil. 672