S. John Paul II Homil. 1220



Friday, 8 December 2000

1. Mary "is an icon of the Church, the symbol and anticipation of humanity transfigured by grace, the model and the unfailing hope for all those who direct their steps towards the heavenly Jerusalem" (Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen, n. 6).

Dear brothers and sisters! Here we have gathered together in the basilica that the Roman people, shortly after the Council of Ephesus, dedicated with devout fervour to the Holy Virgin Mary. This evening the Byzantine liturgical tradition celebrates First Vespers of the Conception of St Anne, while the Latin liturgy praises the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.

1221 I express my heartfelt satisfaction with the participation of this group of brothers and sisters, who are with us this evening representing the Eastern Catholic Churches. I extend a cordial greeting to all the Byzantine-rite Bishops here in this basilica along with their faithful.

2. This evening we have all been filled with deep joy: the joy of praising Mary with the Akathistos Hymn, so dear to the Eastern tradition. It is a song centred on Christ, contemplated in the light of his Virgin Mother. It invites us 144 times to repeat to Mary the Archangel Gabriel's greeting: Hail, Mary!

We have retraced the stages of her life and offered praise for the marvels worked in her by the Almighty: from the virginal conception, the beginning and principle of the new creation, to her divine motherhood, to her sharing in her Son's mission, especially the moments of his passion, death and resurrection.

Mother of the risen Lord and Mother of the Church, Mary goes before us and leads us to genuine knowledge of God and to the encounter with the Redeemer. She indicates the way to us and shows us her Son. In celebrating her with joy and gratitude, we honour the holiness of God, whose mercy has worked marvels in his humble handmaid. We greet her with the title Full of Grace and implore her intercession for all the children of the Church, which celebrates her glory with this Akathistos Hymn.

May she guide us this Christmas to contemplate the mystery of the God made man for our salvation!


Sunday, 10 December 2000

1. "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Lc 3,4). Today John the Baptist speaks to us in these words. In a certain sense, his ascetic figure embodies the meaning of this time of expectation and preparation for the Lord's coming. In the desert of Judea he proclaims that the time has come for the fulfilment of the promises and that the kingdom of God is at hand: it is therefore urgent to forsake the ways of sin and believe in the Gospel (cf. Mk Mc 1,15).

What figure could be more fitting for your Jubilee than John the Baptist, dear catechists and Catholic religion teachers? I extend an affectionate greeting to all of you who have come from different countries representing many particular Churches. I thank Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and your two representatives for the kind words they addressed to me in the name of you all at the beginning of this celebration.

2. In the Baptist you are rediscovering today the fundamental features of your ecclesial service. By taking him as your model, you are encouraged to examine the mission entrusted to you by the Church. Who is John the Baptist? First of all he is a believer personally committed to a demanding spiritual journey, consisting of attentive and constant listening to the Word of salvation. He also bears witness to a way of life that is detached and poor; he shows great courage in proclaiming God's will to everyone, even to its ultimate consequences. He does not yield to the easy temptation to take a prominent role, but humbly lowers himself to exalt Jesus.

Like John the Baptist, the catechist too is called to point out Jesus as the awaited Messiah, the Christ. His task is to invite people to fix their gaze on Jesus and to follow him, for Jesus alone is the Teacher, the Lord and the Saviour. Like the Precursor, it is Christ and not himself whom the catechist must emphasize. Everything must be directed to him: to his coming, to his presence, to his mystery.

The catechist must be a voice that refers to the Word, a friend who leads to the Bridegroom. And yet, like John, he too is indispensable in a certain sense, because the experience of faith always needs a mediator who is also a witness. Who among us does not thank the Lord for an effective catechist - a priest, a man or woman religious, a lay person - to whom we owe our first practical and engaging explanation of the Christian mystery?

1222 3. Your work, dear catechists and religion teachers, is more necessary than ever and requires on your part constant fidelity to Christ and to the Church. For all the faithful have a right to receive from those who, by office or mandate, are responsible for catechesis and preaching answers that are not subjective, but correspond with the Church's constant Magisterium, with the faith that has always been taught authoritatively by those appointed teachers and lived exemplarily by the saints.

In this regard, I would like to recall here the important Apostolic Exhortation Quinque iam anni which the Servant of God Pope Paul VI addressed to the Catholic Episcopate five years after the Second Vatican Council, that is, exactly 30 years ago on 8 December 1970. He, the Pope, denounced the dangerous tendency to reconstruct, on psychological and sociological foundations, a Christianity uprooted from the uninterrupted Tradition that goes back to the faith of the Apostles (cf. Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VIII [1970], 1420). It is your task, dear friends, to collaborate with the Bishops, so that the necessary effort to make the message understandable to the men and women of our time will never betray the truth and continuity of the doctrine of the faith (cf. ibid., 1422).

However, an intellectual knowledge of Christ and his Gospel is not enough. For believing in him means following him. Therefore we must learn from the Apostles, from the confessors of the faith, from the saints of every age who helped to spread Christ's name and to make it loved by the witness of a life generously and joyously spent for him and for their brethren.

4. In this regard, today's Gospel passage invites us to make a careful examination of conscience. St Luke speaks of "ways to be made straight", of "valleys to be filled", of "mountains" and "hills to be brought low" so that all flesh may see the salvation of God (cf. Lk
Lc 3,4-6). These "valleys to be filled" make us think of the gap that can be seen in some people between the faith they profess and the daily life they lead: The Council counted this dichotomy as "one of the gravest errors of our time" (Gaudium et spes GS 43).

The "paths to be straightened" also recall the situation of some believers who extract from the complete and unchangeable patrimony of the faith certain subjectively selected elements, actually in the light of the dominant mentality, and abandon the straight path of Gospel spirituality to follow vague values inspired by a conventional and irenic moralism. In fact, although the Christian lives in a multiethnic and multireligious society, he cannot fail to sense the urgency of the missionary mandate which prompted St Paul to exclaim: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1Co 9,16).

The Gospel of Christ, the message of happiness for every person, whatever his age, class, culture or nation, should be courageously presented in every circumstance, in every context, favourable or not.

5. Aware of this, the Church has devoted even greater effort in recent decades to the renewal of catechesis, in accordance with the teachings and spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Here we need only mention a few important ecclesial initiatives such as the Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, particularly the one in 1974 dedicated to evangelization, as well as the various documents of the Holy See and the Episcopates published in these decades. A special place is naturally held by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992 and followed three years later by a new edition of the General Directory for Catechesis. This abundance of events and documents witnesses to the concern of the Church which, at the beginning of the third millennium, feels spurred by the Lord to commit herself with renewed zeal to proclaiming the Gospel message.

6. The Church's catechetical mission faces important goals. The Episcopates are preparing the national catechisms which, in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, will present an organic synthesis of the faith adapted to the "differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity and ecclesial condition" (CEC 24). A hope rises from my heart and becomes a prayer: may the complete, universal Christian message pervade every area and level of culture and social responsibility! Above all, in accordance with a glorious tradition, may it be translated into the language of art and social communications, in order to reach the most varied human milieus!

At this solemn moment, with deep affection I encourage you who are engaged in various catechetical activities: from parish catechesis, which in a certain sense is the leaven of all the other forms, to catechesis in Catholic schools, associations, movements and new ecclesial communities. Experience teaches that the quality of catechetical activity largely depends on the caring and affectionate pastoral presence of priests. Dear priests, especially you, dear parish priests, do not let the courses of Christian initiation or the training of catechists lack your diligent efforts. Be close to them and accompany them. This is an important service which the Church is asking of you.

7. "I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership in the Gospel" (Ph 1,4-5). Dear brothers and sisters, I willingly make my own the words of the Apostle Paul offered to us again by today's liturgy, and I say to you: catechists of every age and state, you are always present in my prayers, and the thought of you, committed to spreading the Gospel in every part of the world and in every social situation, is a comfort and hope for me. Today I would like to pay tribute with you to your many colleagues who paid with every kind of suffering and often even with their lives for their fidelity to the Gospel and to the communities to which they were sent. May their example be an inspiration and encouragement to each of you.

"All flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Lc 3,6), so said John the Baptist in the desert, foretelling the fullness of time. Let us make our own this cry of hope, as we celebrate the 2,000th Jubilee of the Incarnation. May all flesh see in Christ the salvation of God! This is why every person must meet him, know him and follow him. Dear friends, this is the Church's mission; this is your mission! The Pope tells you: Go! Like the Baptist, prepare the way for the Lord who comes.

1223 May Mary Most Holy, Virgin of Advent and Star of the new evangelization, guide and help you. Be docile as she was to the divine Word and may her Magnificat spur you to praise and to prophetic courage. Thus the words of the Gospel will also be fulfilled through you: all flesh will see the salvation of God! Praised be Jesus Christ!


Sunday, 17 December 2000

1. "Rejoice ... the Lord is at hand" (Ph 4,4).

Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, is marked by joy: the joy of those awaiting the One who "is at hand", the God-with-us, foretold by the prophets. It is the "great joy" of Christmas which we have a foretaste of today; a joy which "will be for all people", because the Saviour came and will come again to visit us from on high, like the rising sun (cf. Lk Lc 1,78).

It is the joy of Christians, pilgrims in the world, who await with hope the glorious return of the One who, to come to our aid, emptied himself of his divine glory. It is the joy of this Holy Year, which commemorates the two millennia since the time when the Son of God, Light from Light, shone upon humanity's history with the radiance of his presence.

In this perspective, the words of the prophet Zephaniah, which we have just heard in the first reading, become particularly eloquent: "Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgements against you, he has cast out your enemies" (So 3,14-15): this is the "year of the Lord's favour", which heals us from sin and its wounds!

2. The prophet's consoling message echoes with great intensity in our assembly: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love" (So 3,17).

It is he who came and it is he whom we await. The Jubilee Year invites us to fix our gaze on him, especially during this Advent of the Year 2000. The Lord, "a warrior who gives victory", is also presented to you today, dear brothers and sisters who in various ways work in the entertainment world. I welcome you in his name and cordially greet you. I express my affectionate gratitude for the kind words addressed to me by Archbishop John Patrick Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and by your two representatives. I extend my greetings to your colleagues and friends who have been unable to attend.

3. Last Sunday, Luke's Gospel presented to us John the Baptist, who proclaimed on the banks of the Jordan the Messiah's imminent coming. Today the liturgy lets us hear the continuation of this Gospel passage: the Baptist explains to the crowds how in practice to prepare the way of the Lord. He tells the various categories of people who ask him: "What then shall we do?" (Lk 3: 10, 12, 14), what must be done to prepare themselves to welcome the Messiah.

This Gospel passage, in a certain sense, reminds us of the Jubilee meetings for the various social or professional categories. It also reminds us of you, dear brothers and sisters: by your Jubilee pilgrimage it is as though you too have come to ask: "What must we do?". The first answer that the word of God gives you is an invitation to rediscover joy. Is not the Jubilee - a term connected with "jubilation" - an exhortation to be full of joy, because the Lord has come to dwell among us and has given us his love?

However, this joy that flows from divine grace is not a superficial or fleeting happiness. It is a deep joy, rooted in the heart, which can imbue the believer's entire life. A joy that can coexist with difficulties, trials, even - however paradoxical this may seem - with pain and death. It is the joy of Christmas and Easter, the gift of the incarnate Son of God, who died and rose again; a joy that no one can take from those who are one with him in faith and works (cf. Jn Jn 16,22-23).

1224 Many of you, dear friends, work to entertain the public in creating and producing shows that are meant to offer an opportunity for healthy relaxation and amusement. If Christian joy in its proper sense is found at a more directly spiritual level, nevertheless it also includes the healthy enjoyment that is good for the mind and body. Thus society should be grateful to those who produce and present intelligent and relaxing broadcasts and programmes which are entertaining without being alienating, humorous but not vulgar. Spreading authentic joy can be a genuine form of social charity.

4. The Church, then, like John the Baptist, has a specific message for you today, dear workers in the entertainment world. A message which could be expressed in these words: in your work, always remember the people who are your audience, their rights and their legitimate expectations, especially when it is a question of people who are still in formation. Do not let yourselves be influenced by mere financial or ideological interest. This is the fundamental principle of the ethics of social communications, which each of you is called to apply to his own area of activity. In this regard, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications published a specific document last June: Ethics in Social Communications, on which I invite you to reflect.

Particularly those among you who are better known to the public must be constantly aware of their responsibility. People look at you, dear friends, with fondness and interest. Always be positive and consistent models for them, capable of instilling trust, optimism and hope.

In order to carry out this demanding mission, the Lord comes to your aid and you can have recourse to him by listening to his word and praying. Yes, dear friends, you who work with images, gestures and sounds; in other words, you work with the exterior. For this very reason you must be men and women with a strong interiority and be capable of recollection. God dwells within us, more inward than our innermost self, as Augustine pointed out. If you know how to converse with him, you will be better able to communicate with your neighbour. If you have a keen awareness of the good, the true and the beautiful, your creative productions even the simplest, will have good aesthetic and moral quality.

5. The Church is close to you and counts on you! She expects you to instil in cinema, television, radio, the theatre, circuses and every form of entertainment that Gospel "leaven" which enables every human reality to develop its positive potential to the maximum.

It is impossible to think of a new evangelization that does not involve your world, the world of entertainment, which is so important in forming minds and habits. I am thinking of the many initiatives which present the Bible message and the very rich heritage of the Christian tradition in the language of forms, sounds and images through the theatre, cinema and television. I am also thinking of those works and programmes that are not explicitly religious but are still capable of speaking to peoples' hearts, prompting them to wonder, to question and to reflect.

6. Dear brothers and sisters! Providence has wanted your Jubilee to be celebrated a few days before Christmas, certainly the feast most often portrayed in your field of work at all levels, from the mass media to the living cribs. May today's meeting help us to enter into harmony with the true Christmas spirit, which is very different from the worldly spirit that makes it a commercial opportunity.

Let Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, guide you on your journey of preparation for this solemnity. She silently awaits the fulfilment of the divine promises and teaches us that to bring peace and joy to the world, we must first welcome into our heart the Prince of Peace and source of joy, Jesus Christ. For this to happen, we must be converted to his love and be ready to do his will.

I hope, dear friends of the entertainment world, that you too will have this comforting experience. In the most varied languages, you will then be messengers of joy, of that joy which Christ gives to all humanity at Christmas.



Christmas, 24 December 2000

1. “Today is born our Saviour” (Responsorial Psalm)

1225 On this night, the ancient yet ever new proclamation of the Lord’s birth rings out. It rings out for those keeping watch, like the shepherds in Bethlehem two thousand years ago; it rings out for those who have responded to Advent’s call and who, waiting watchfully, are ready to welcome the joyful tidings which in the liturgy become our song: “Today is born our Saviour”.

The Christian people keep watch; the entire world keeps watch on this Christmas night which is linked to that unforgettable night a year ago, when the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee was opened, the Door of grace opened wide for all.

2. It is as if the Church had never ceased to repeat day after day during the Jubilee year: “Today is born our Saviour”. This proclamation, with its inexhaustible power to renew us, echoes once more on this holy night with special force: this is the Christmas of the Great Jubilee, a living remembrance of Christ’s two thousand years, of his wondrous birth, which marked the new beginning of history. Today “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (
Jn 1,14).

“Today”. On this night, time opens to eternity, because you, O Christ, are born among us, coming from on high. You came to birth from the womb of a Woman blessed among all women, you “the Son of the Most High”. Once and for all your holiness made all time holy: the days, the centuries, the millennia. By your birth, you have turned time into the “today” of salvation.

3. “Today is born our Saviour”.

On this night we celebrate the mystery of Bethlehem, the mystery of an incomparable night which is, in a sense, within time and beyond time. From the Virgin’s womb was born a Child, a manger became the cradle of immortal Life.

Christmas is the festival of life, because you, Jesus, born like all of us, have blessed the moment of birth: a moment which symbolically represents the mystery of human life, joining labour to expectation, pain to joy. All of this took place in Bethlehem: a Mother gave birth; “a man entered the world” (Jn 16,21), the Son of man. The mystery of Bethlehem!

4. With deep emotion I think back to the days of my Jubilee pilgrimage in the Holy Land. My thoughts return to the stable, where I was given the grace to pause in prayer. In spirit, I embrace that blessed land that saw the blossoming of imperishable joy for the world.

I think with concern of the Holy Places, and especially of the town of Bethlehem where sadly, because of the troubled political situation, the evocative rites of Christmas cannot be celebrated with their usual solemnity. Tonight I would like the Christian communities in those places to feel that the whole Church is very close to them.

We are close to you, dear brothers and sisters, in a particularly intense prayer. We share your anxiety for the destiny of the entire region of the Middle East. May the Lord hear our plea! From this Square, the centre of the Catholic world, let the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds ring out once more with new strength: “Glory to God in the highest heavens and peace on earth to those whom he loves” (Lc 2,14).

Our confidence cannot be shaken, nor can our wonder at what we are celebrating ever fade. Today is born the One who brings peace to the world.

1226 5. “Today is born our Saviour”.

The Word cries in a manger. His name is Jesus, which means “God saves”, because “he will save his people from their sins” (
Mt 1,21).

It is not a palace which sees the birth of the Redeemer, destined to establish the eternal and universal Kingdom. He is born in a stable and, coming among us, he kindles in the world the fire of God’s love (cf. Lk Lc 12,49). This fire will not be quenched ever again.

May this fire burn in our hearts as a flame of charity in action, showing itself in openness to and support of our many brothers and sisters sorely tried by want and suffering!

6. Lord Jesus, whom we contemplate in the poverty of Bethlehem, make us witnesses to your love, that love which led you to strip yourself of divine glory, in order to be born among us and die for us.

As the Great Jubilee moves into its final phase, pour out your Spirit upon us, that the grace of the Incarnation may inspire in every believer a determination to respond more generously to the new life received in Baptism.

Grant that the light of this night, brighter than day, may be cast upon the future and guide the steps of humanity in the way of peace.

You, O Prince of peace, You, O Saviour born for us today, be with your Church on the road which stretches before us into the new millennium!




1 January 2001

1. "[The shepherds] went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the babe, lying in a manger" (Lc 2,16).

1227 Today, the Octave of Christmas, the liturgy urges us, with these words, to walk with new and conscious fervour to Bethlehem to adore the divine Child, who is born for us. It invites us to follow in the footsteps of the shepherds who, on entering the grotto, recognize in that tiny human being, "born of woman, born under the law" (Ga 4,4), the Almighty, who made himself one of us. Beside him, Joseph and Mary are silent witnesses of the miracle of Christmas. This is the mystery which we too contemplate with amazement today: the Lord is born for us. Mary "gave birth to the King of heaven and earth for ever" (cf. Sedulius).

We remain in ecstasy before the scene which the Evangelist describes to us. Let us pause, in a special way, to contemplate the shepherds. Simple and joyful models of our human searching, especially in the context of the Great Jubilee, they highlight the interior conditions required to meet Jesus.

The disarming tenderness of the Child, the surprising poverty in which he is found and the humble simplicity of Mary and Joseph transform the shepherds' lives: thus they become messengers of salvation, evangelists ante litteram. St Luke writes: "the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them" (Lc 2,20). They left happy and enriched by an event that had changed their lives. In their words is the echo of an inner joy which becomes praise: "they returned, glorifying and praising God".

2. In this Jubilee year, we too have set out to meet Christ, the Redeemer of man. In passing through the Holy Door, we have experienced his mysterious presence, through which man was given the possibility of passing from sin to grace, from death to life. The Son of God, who became flesh for us, has made us feel the powerful call to conversion and love.

How many gifts, how many extraordinary occasions the Great Jubilee has offered to believers! In the experience of forgiveness received and given, in the commemoration of the martyrs, in listening to the cry of the world's poor and in the testimonies full of faith passed down to us by our fellow believers of all epochs, we too have glimpsed the saving presence of God in history. We have, as it were, physically felt his love which renews the face of the earth. In a few days this special time of grace will end. Just as he asked the shepherds who hastened to adore him, Christ asks of believers, to whom he has given the joy of meeting him, a courageous readiness to set out once again to proclaim his Gospel, old and ever new. He sends them to enliven our human history and culture with his saving message.

3. "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God" (Lc 2,20). We too are beginning this new year which the Lord has given us encouraged and enriched by the Jubilee grace. May we find comfort in the words of the first reading which renew the Creator's blessing. "The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace" (NM 6,24-25). May the Lord give us his peace, peace which is not the result of human compromises but the surprising effect of his benevolent gaze upon us. This is the peace we pray for today, as we celebrate the 34th World Day of Peace.

With great affection I greet the distinguished Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See who are present at this solemn liturgy. I greet in particular dear Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and, with him, the personnel of the dicastery whose specific task is to show the concern of the Pope and of the Apostolic See for the promotion of a more just and peaceful world. I greet the authorities and all those who have wished to speak at this prayer meeting for peace. Ideally I would like once again to propose to you all this year's Message for the World Day of Peace, in which I treated a particularly timely topic, "Dialogue between cultures for a civilization of love and peace".

4. Today, in this evocative liturgical framework, I renew my heartfelt invitation to every person of good will to take the privileged path of dialogue with confidence and determination. Only in this way the specific riches that characterize the history and lives of persons and peoples will not be lost but, on the contrary, will contribute to building a new era of fraternal solidarity. May everyone make an effort to promote an authentic culture of solidarity and justice, closely "connected with the value of peace, the primary objective of every society and of national and international life" (Message for World Day of Peace, n. 18).

This is even more necessary in the context of the world today, which has been made complex by the widespread human mobility, global communications and the frequently difficult encounters between different cultures. At the same time, the urgent need to defend life, a fundamental good of humanity, should be vigorously reaffirmed, since "it is not possible to invoke peace and despise life" (ibid., n. 19).

We address our prayer to the Lord so that respect for these basic values, the heritage of every culture, will contribute to building the hoped for civilization of love and peace. May Christ, Prince of Peace, whom we contemplate in the poverty of the crib, obtain this for us.

5. "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lc 2,19).

1228 Today the Church is celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. After presenting her as the One who offers the Child to the shepherds who sought him anxiously, Luke the Evangelist gives us an image of Mary, at the same time simple and majestic. Mary is the woman of faith, who made room for God in her heart, in her plans, in her body, in her experience as a wife and mother.

She is the believer who is capable of understanding the unusual event of the Son as the coming of that "fullness of time" (
Ga 4,4), in which God, choosing the simple ways of human life, decided to involve himself personally in the work of salvation.

Faith leads the Most Holy Virgin to take unknown and unforeseeable paths, while she continues to keep everything in her heart, that is, in the depths of her spirit, to respond with renewed adherence to God and to his plan of love.

6. Let us address our prayer to her at the beginning of this new year.

Help us too, O Mary, always to rethink our lives with a spirit of faith. Help us to safeguard places for silence and contemplation in the frenzy of our daily lives. Orient us constantly to the needs of true peace, a gift of the Nativity of Christ.

On this first day of 2001, we entrust to you the expectations and hopes of all humanity: "We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin!" (From the Liturgy of the Hours).

Virgin Mother of God, intercede for us with your Son, so that his face will shine on the path of the new millennium and every person can live in justice and peace!




Solemnity of the Epiphany,

Saturday, 6 January 2001

1. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This acclamation from the Responsorial Psalm expresses very well the meaning of the Solemnity of the Epiphany which we are celebrating today. It also sheds light on today’s rite of the closing of the Holy Door.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1220