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Christmas - Natale - Navidad - Noël

in the Jubilee Year 2000

Pope St John Paul II's Homily  
at Christmas Midnight Mass - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. “Today is born for us the Saviour”

On this night rings out the announcement, ancient and ever new, of the birth of the Lord. It rings out for those who keep watch, like the shepherds in Bethlehem 2000 years ago; it rings out for those who have followed the call of Advent and, keeping vigil, are ready to welcome the joyful message, which in the liturgy becomes a song: “Today is born for us the Saviour”.

The Christian people keep vigil; the entire world keeps vigil, on this Christmas night which is linked to that memorable 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 on every day of the Jubilee year the Church has never ceased to repeat: “Today is born for us the Saviour”. This proclamation, which possesses an inexhaustible charge of renewal, resonates on this holy night with special force: it is the Christmas of the Great Jubilee, a living memory of 2000 years of Christ, of his wondrous birth, which marked the new beginning of history. Today “the Verb was made flesh and came to dwell among us” (Jn 1, 14).

“Today”. On this night, time opens up to eternity, because You, O Christ, are born among us, coming from on high. You came to light from the womb of a Woman blessed among all women, You, “the Son of the Most High”. Your holiness sanctified our time once and for always: the days, the centuries, the millennia. With your birth, you made of time a “today” of salvation.

3. “Today is born for us the Saviour”.

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

Christmas is the feast of life, because You, Jesus, by coming to light like each of us, have blessed the hour of birth: an hour which symbolically represents the mystery of human existence, uniting labour to hope, pain to joy. All this happened in Bethlehem: a Mother gave birth; “a man came into 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 to the Holy Land. My thoughts return to the grotto in which I was given the grace to pause in prayer. I kiss in spirit this blessed land in which imperishable joy blossomed for the world.

I think with concern of the Holy Places and, especially, of the town of Bethlehem where, regrettably, because of the troubled political situation, the evocative rites of Christmas cannot be celebrated with their usual solemnity. I would like on this night for these Christian communities to feel the full solidarity of all the Church.

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

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

5. “Today is born for us the Saviour”.

The Verb 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 in a palace that was born 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 12, 49). This fire will never again be extinguished.

May this fire burn in our hearts as a flame of charity in action, showing itself in openness to and support for 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, to that love which led You to strip Yourself of divine glory, so as to be born among men and die for us.

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

Grant that the light of this night, more resplendent than day, may be projected upon the future and guide the steps of humanity on the way of peace.

You, Prince of peace, You, Saviour born for us today, walk with your Church on the road that opens up before us into the new millennium!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's Urbi et Orbi Message on Christmas Day
St Peter's Square, 25 December 2000 - in English, French, German, ItalianPortuguese & Spanish

"1. "The first man Adam
became a living being;
the last Adam
became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15, 45).

These are the words of the Apostle Paul,
which sum up the mystery of humanity redeemed by Christ.
A mystery hidden in God’s eternal plan;
a mystery which, in a certain way, became history
with the incarnation of the Eternal Word of the Father;
a mystery which the Church re-lives with profound emotion
during this Christmas of the Year 2000,
the Year of the Great Jubilee.
Adam, the first "living man",
Christ, "a life-giving spirit":
the words of the Apostle help us to look more deeply,
to recognize in the Child born in Bethlehem
the Lamb once slain, who unveils the meaning of history (cf Rev 5, 7-9).
At his Birth time and eternity met:
God in man and man in God.

2. "The first man Adam became a living being".
The immortal genius of Michelangelo
portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
the moment when God the Father
communicated the gift of life to the first man
and made him "a living being".
Between the finger of God and the finger of man
stretching out to each other and almost touching,
there seems to leap an invisible spark:
God communicates to man a tremor of his own life,
creating him in his own image and likeness.
That divine breath is the origin
of the unique dignity of every human being,
of humanity’s boundless yearning for the infinite.
It is to that instant of impenetrable mystery,
the beginning of human life on earth,
that our thoughts turn today,
as we contemplate the Son of God
who becomes the son of man,
the eternal face of God
reflected in the face of a Child.

3. "The first man Adam became a living being."
Because of the divine spark placed within him,
man is a being endowed with intelligence and freedom,
and thus capable of deciding responsibly
regarding himself and his own destiny.
The great fresco of the Sistine Chapel continues
with the scene of original sin:
the serpent, wrapped round the tree,
persuades our first parents to eat its forbidden fruit.
The genius of art and the intensity of the biblical symbolism
are perfectly wedded in order to evoke
that tragic moment, the beginning for humanity
of a history of rebellion, sin and sorrow.
But could God forget the work of his hands,
the masterpiece of creation?
We know faith’s answer:
"When the time had fully come,
God sent forth his Son, born of woman,
born under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4, 4-5).
These words of the Apostle Paul
ring out with particular eloquence
as we contemplate the wondrous event of Christmas,
in the Year of the Great Jubilee.
In the Newborn Child, laid in the manger,
we greet the "new Adam"
who became for us "a life-giving spirit".
The whole history of the world tends towards him,
born in Bethlehem in order to restore hope
to every man and woman on the face of the earth.

4. From the manger, our gaze today takes in all humanity,
called to receive the grace of the "second Adam",
yet still heir to the sin of the "first Adam".
Is it not this first "No" to God,
repeated in every human sin,
which continues to mar the face of humanity?
Children subjected to violence, humiliated and abandoned,
women raped and exploited,
young people, adults and the elderly marginalized,
endless streams of exiles and refugees,
violence and conflict in so many parts of the world.
I am thinking with great concern of the Holy Land
where violence continues to stain with blood
the difficult path to peace.
And what are we to say about countries
- I am thinking particularly of Indonesia -
where our brothers and sisters in faith, even on this Christmas day,
are undergoing a tragic time of trial and suffering?
We cannot but recall today
that shadows of death threaten
people’s lives at every stage of life,
and are especially menacing
at its earliest beginning and its natural end.
The temptation is becoming ever stronger
to take possession of death by anticipating its arrival,
as though we were masters of our own lives or the lives of others.
We are faced by alarming signs
of the "culture of death",
which pose a serious threat for the future.

5. Yet however dense the darkness may appear,
our hope for the triumph of the Light which appeared
on this Holy Night at Bethlehem is stronger still.
So much good is being done, silently,
by men and women who daily live their faith,
their work, their dedication
to their families and to the good of society.
Encouraging too are the efforts of all those,
including men and women in public life, striving
to foster respect for the human rights of every person,
and the growth of solidarity between peoples of different cultures,
so that the debt of the poorest countries will be condoned
and honourable peace agreements reached
between nations engaged in tragic conflicts.

6. To peoples in all parts of the world
who are moving with courage towards the values of democracy,
freedom, respect and mutual acceptance,
and to all persons of good will, whatever their culture,
the joyful message of Christmas is today addressed:
"Peace on earth to those on whom God’s favour rests" (cf Lk 2, 14).
Of humanity as it approaches the new millennium,
You, Lord Jesus, born for us at Bethlehem
ask respect for every person,
especially the small and the weak;
you ask for an end to all forms of violence!
To wars, oppression, and all attacks on life!
O Christ, whom we look on today
in the arms of Mary,
you are the reason for our hope!
Saint Paul tells us:
"The old has passed away,
behold, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5, 17).
In you, only in you, is humanity offered
the chance to become "a new creation".
Thank you, Child Jesus, for this your gift!

Happy Christmas to all!
"

St JPII - St Peter's Square, the Vatican, Christmas Day, 25th December in the Jubilee Year 2000