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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 2000

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

1. "Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come. The glory of the Lord is rising on you" (Is 60: 1).

The prophet Isaiah turns his gaze to the future. He is not looking so much at the secular future, but, enlightened by the Spirit, he directs his gaze to the fullness of time, to the fulfilment of God's plan in the messianic age.

The prediction uttered by the prophet concerns the Holy City, which he sees brightly shining: "Though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples, above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears" (Is 60: 2). This is exactly what happened with the incarnation of the Word of God. With him "the true light that enlightens every man came into the world" (Jn 1: 9). From now on everyone's destiny will be decided by whether he accepts or rejects this light: for the life of men is found in him.

2. Today the light that appeared on Christmas extends its rays: it is the light of God's epiphany. It is no longer only the shepherds of Bethlehem who see and follow it; it is also the Magi Kings, who came to Jerusalem from the East to adore the newborn King. With the Magi came the nations, which begin their journey to the divine Light. Today the Church celebrates this saving Epiphany by listening to the description of it in Matthew's Gospel. The well-known account of the Magi, who came from the East in search of the One who was to be born, has always inspired popular piety as well, becoming a traditional part of the crib.

Epiphany is both an event and a symbol. The event is described in detail by the Evangelist. The symbolic meaning, however, was gradually discovered as the Church reflected more and more on the event and celebrated it liturgically.

3. After 2,000 years, wherever Epiphany is celebrated, the ecclesial community draws from this precious liturgical and spiritual tradition ever new points for reflection.

Here in Rome, in accordance with a custom to which I have wanted to remain faithful since the beginning of my pontificate, we celebrate this mystery by consecrating new bishops. It is a tradition that has its own intrinsic theological and pastoral eloquence, and today we joyfully introduce it into the third millennium.

Dear Brothers who will shortly be consecrated, you come from various nations and represent the universality of the Church which adores the Word made flesh for our salvation. Thus the words of the responsorial psalm are fulfilled: Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Our liturgical assembly expresses this catholic nature of the Church in a remarkable way, thanks also to you, dear Bishops-elect. For around you are gathered in spirit the faithful from various parts of the world to whom you have been sent as successors of the Apostles.

4. Some of you will carry out the mission of Apostolic Nuncios: you, Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, in Bolivia; you, Archbishop Giacomo Guido Ottonello, in Panama; you, Archbishop George Panikulam, in Honduras; and you, Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, in The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. You will be papal representatives in these countries at the service of the local Churches and of the authentic human progress of their respective peoples.

You, Bishop Ivo Baldi, will lead the Diocese of Huaraz, Peru. You, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, have been chosen as Coadjutor Bishop of Lwena, Angola; and you, Bishop David Laurin Ricken, as Coadjutor Bishop of Cheyenne in the United States of America.

Episcopal ordination will confirm and strengthen you, Bishop Anton Cosa, in your service as Apostolic Administrator of Moldova, and you, Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, as Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus.

You, Bishop András Veres, will be Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Eger, Hungary; and you, Bishop Péter Erdo, will be Auxiliary to the Pastor of Székesfehérvár.

As for you, Bishop Franco Croci, you will continue your work as Secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

Be ever mindful of the grace of this Epiphany day! May the light of Christ always shine in your hearts and your pastoral ministry.

5. Today's liturgy urges us to be joyful. There is a reason for this: the light that shone from the Christmas star to lead the Magi from the East to Bethlehem continues to guide all the peoples and nations of the world on the same journey.

Let us give thanks for the men and women who have made this journey during the past 2,000 years. Let us praise Christ, Lumen gentium, who guided them and continues to guide the nations down the path of history!

To him, the Lord of time, God from God, Light from Light, we confidently address our prayer.

May his star, the Epiphany star, continually shine in our hearts, showing to individuals and nations the way of truth, love and peace in the third millennium. Amen."

Papa Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today's Gospel speaks about the Magi who, guided by a star, came from the East to adore Jesus in Bethlehem. It is the Epiphany of Christ, that is, his manifestation to all peoples. The Messiah is born of David's lineage, thus fulfilling the prophets' promises, but his message of salvation is universal: the glory of Israel and light for all peoples (cf. Lk 2: 32).

Today's solemnity therefore reveals the universal vocation of the Church, which is called to reflect the light of the Lord on her face. In this liturgical and spiritual context, I ordained 12 new Bishops this morning from various countries of the world. As I again offer them my fervent good wishes, I invite you to pray that in their ministry they may always be authentic witnesses to the Gospel and wise and generous leaders of God's People.

2. My thoughts now turn to the Christian East, where my brothers in faith, the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches, live and proclaim the Gospel: in Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Romania, Georgia and every other land where these Churches sing the praises of the Word of God made man. I would like to name them one by one, while expressing the ardent hope that the light of Christ, whose birth they are celebrating at this time, will give them in abundance all that can strengthen the proclamation of the one Gospel of salvation.

To the Orthodox Churches and to the Eastern Catholic Churches which celebrate Christ's birth tomorrow, I wish a Happy Christmas in the words of a troparion well known to them: "Your birth, O Christ our God, made the light of truth shine in the world ... Guided by a star they came to adore you, the sun of justice, and to acknowledge you, the heavenly dawn. O Lord, glory to you".

3. Thinking of all the Churches of the Christian East, I offer them my wishes for prosperity and joy. I do so while participating in spirit in the song of their Liturgies and sharing in the many gifts the Lord has lavished on their traditions and which enrich the Church of Christ.

At the beginning of this new year, as we fervently observe the Great Jubilee, we entrust to Mary, the "Morning Star", the Church's evangelizing mission and the journey of Christians toward the full unity desired by our Redeemer."

After the Angelus

"Rivolgo un caloroso saluto a voi, cari fedeli venuti per l'Ordinazione dei nuovi Vescovi, e benedico di cuore le Comunità ecclesiali a cui appartenete.

Saluto i partecipanti al corteo folcloristico "Viva la Befana", che fa seguito a quello dei Re Magi di domenica scorsa in viaggio verso Cori e Giulianello. Queste iniziative richiamino a tutti il valore del pellegrinaggio, simbolo del cammino di conversione ed elemento costitutivo del Giubileo.

Uno speciale pensiero dirigo ora ai giovani di Ischia, riuniti nella Cattedrale per una celebrazione giubilare diocesana e collegati con noi via radio e televisione. Carissimi, saluto con affetto voi e il vostro Pastore, Mons. Filippo Strofaldi. Il passaggio nella vostra bella Isola della Croce pellegrina delle Giornate Mondiali della Gioventù rafforzi in tutti la fede e la gioia di essere discepoli del Signore. Vi attendo a Roma, per il Grande Giubileo dei giovani, nel prossimo mese di agosto."

JPII - Thursday, 6 January in the Jubilee Year 2000 - © Copyright 2000 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana