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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 2001

& the Closing of the Holy Door at the end of the Great Jubilee 2000

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

1. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This acclamation, repeated just now in the responsorial psalm, expresses very well the meaning of the Solemnity of the Epiphany which we celebrate today. It also sheds light on today’s rite of the closing of the Holy Door.

“All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!”: is a vision which speaks to us of the future, makes us look far ahead. It evokes the ancient messianic prophecy, which will be fully realized when Christ our Lord returns in glory at the end of history. It has nevertheless had a first realization, both historical and prophetic, when the Magi came to Bethlehem bearing their gifts. It was the beginning of the manifestation of Christ – precisely his “epiphany” – to the representatives of the peoples of the world.

It is a prophecy that is being gradually fulfilled in the course of time, (hand in hand) as the Gospel proclamation expands in the hearts of men and is rooted in all the regions of the earth. Was not the Great Jubilee a kind of "epiphany"? By coming here to Rome, or by going on pilgrimage elsewhere to the many Jubilee Churches, countless people set out in some way in the footsteps of the Magi, in search of Christ. The Holy Door is only the symbol of this encounter with Him. Christ is the true “Holy Door”, who opens to us the access to the Father’s house and introduces us into the intimacy of the divine life.

2. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” Here above all, in the centre of Catholicism, the impressive flow of pilgrims from all the continents has given this year an eloquent image of the pathway of the peoples towards Christ. It involved persons from the most diverse backgrounds, coming with the desire to contemplate the face of Christ and to obtain his mercy.

“Christ yesterday and today / the Beginning and the End / the Alpha and the Omega; / To Him belongs all time, / and all the ages; / to Him be glory and power / through every age for ever” (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil). Yes, this is the hymn which the Jubilee, with the evocative horizon of the passage to a new millennium, wished to raise to Christ, Lord of history, 2000 years after his birth. Today this extraordinary year officially closes, but the spiritual gifts poured out in it remain; that great “year of grace”, which Christ inaugurated in the synagogue of Nazareth (cf Lk 4, 18-19) and which will last to the end of time, continues.

While today, with the Holy Door, a “symbol of Christ” is closed, the Heart of Christ more than ever remains open. He continues to say to humanity in need of hope and meaning: “Come to me, all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Beyond the numerous celebrations and initiatives which have marked it, the living and consoling experience of the “encounter with Christ” is the great legacy which the Jubilee leaves us.

3. We desire today to express the gratitude and praise of the whole Church. For this reason, at the end of this celebration, we will sing a solemn Te Deum of thanksgiving. The Lord has accomplished wonders for us, he has filled us with his mercy. Today we must make our own the gladness which filled the Magi, on their pathway to Christ: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Mt 2:10). Above all, we must imitate them as they place at the feet of the divine Child not only their gifts but also their lives.

In this Jubilee year the Church has sought to perform with greater commitment, for her children and for humanity, the function of the star which directed the steps of the Magi. The Church does not live for herself, but for Christ. She intends to be the “star” which acts as the point of reference, helping us to find the pathway which leads to Him.

In patristic theology, the Fathers loved to speak of the Church as the 'mysterium lunae', so as to emphasize that, like the moon, she does not shine with her own light, but reflects Christ, her Sun. I like to recall that the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church begins with this exact thought: “Christ is the light of the nations, lumen gentium!” And the Council Fathers continued by expressing their ardent desire to “enlighten/illuminate all men with the light of Christ which is reflected in the face of the Church” (n 1).

Mysterium lunae: the Great Jubilee has made the Church live an intense experience of this vocation which is hers. It is to Christ that she has pointed in this year of grace, echoing once more the words of Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (Jn 6:68).

4. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This universality of the call of the peoples to Christ has this year been made manifest more strikingly. People from every continent and every language have come together in St Peter's Square. So many voices have been raised here in song, as a symphony of praise and a proclamation of brotherhood.

I certainly could not at this moment recall all the many gatherings that have taken place. The children who opened the Jubilee with their irrepressible joyfulness come to mind, and the young people who conquered Rome with their enthusiasm and the seriousness of their witness. I think of the families, who proposed a message of fidelity and communion, so necessary in our world, and of the elderly, the sick and the disabled, who knew to offer/offered an eloquent testimony of Christian hope. I have before my eyes the Jubilee of those who, in the world of culture and science, apply themselves with daily dedication to the search for truth.

The pilgrimage which 2000 years ago led the Magi from the East to Bethlehem, in search of the new-born Christ, has been repeated this year by millions and millions of disciples of Christ, who came here not with “gold, frankincense and myrrh” but bringing their own hearts, rich in faith and needful of mercy.

5. For this reason the Church today rejoices, vibrating to the call of Isaiah: “Arise, shine forth, for your light has come... And nations shall come to your light” (Is 60:1, 3). There is not, in this feeling of joy, any empty triumphalism. And how could we fall into this temptation, precisely at the end of such an intensely penitential year? The Great Jubilee has offered us a providential occasion to carry out “the purification of memories”, seeking God's forgiveness for the infidelities carried out, during these 2000 years, by the children of the Church.

Before Christ crucified, we have remembered that, in contrast to the superabundant/overflowing grace which renders the Church “holy”, we her children are deeply marked by sin, and cast a shadow upon the face of the Bride of Christ: no self-exaltation, therefore, but a great consciousness of our limitations and our weaknesses. We cannot, however, not vibrate with joy, with that inner joy to which the Prophet invites us, a joy rich in gratitude and praise, because it is founded upon our consciousness of the gifts received and upon the certainty of Christ’s everlasting love.

6. Now it is time to look forward, and the story of the Magi can in a certain way indicate a spiritual route to us. They tell us above all that, when we encounter Christ, we must learn to stop and live profoundly the joy of intimacy with Him. “Going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his Mother, and bowing down they worshipped him”: their lives were from then on handed for ever to this Child for whom they had endured the rigours of the journey and the deceitfulness of men. Christianity is born, and continually regenerates itself, starting from this contemplation of the glory of God which shines out from/in the face of Christ.

A face to contemplate, as if glimpsing in his eyes the “features” of the Father and letting ourselves be filled with the love of the Spirit. The great Jubilee pilgrimage has reminded us of this fundamental Trinitarian dimension of Christian life: in Christ we also encounter the Father and the Spirit. The Trinity is the origin and the fulfilment. Everything starts from the Trinity, everything comes back to the Trinity.

And yet, as happened to the Magi, this immersion in the contemplation of the mystery does not stop us from journeying on, rather it obliges us to start out afresh on a new stretch of the pathway on which we become proclaimers and witnesses. “They returned to their own country by a different road”. The Magi were in a way the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but propelled them anew on the streets/roads of the world. We must start out from Christ, and for this also, start out from the Trinity.

7. This is precisely what is asked of us, dearest brothers and sisters, as the fruit of the Jubilee which concludes today.

In light of this commitment which awaits us, I will shortly sign the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which I propose some reflections which can help the whole Christian community to “start out” with renewed zeal after the Jubilee commitment. Of course, it is not in the short term about organizing other initiatives of grand proportions. We will return to our normal commitments, but this is far from being a rest. Rather, useful lessons need to be drawn from the Jubilee experience to give inspiration and effective direction to our new commitment.

8. I offer these reflections to the particular Churches, as a sort of “legacy” of the Great Jubilee, so that the Churches can incorporate them in their pastoral planning. There is an urgent need first of all to build on the thirst for the contemplatation of Christ, which the experience of this year has given us. In the human face of the Son of Mary we recognize the Verb made flesh, in the fullness of his divinity and his humanity. The greatest artists – in the East and West – have grappled with the mystery of this Face. But it is above all the Face which the Spirit, the divine “iconographer”, draws in the hearts of all who contemplate Him and love Him. We need to “set out afresh from Christ”, with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out afresh from Him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, in an attitude of prayer and in a listening to his word. To set out afresh from Him so as to testify to his Love, through the practice of a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness in the world. This is the programme that I consign in the present Apostolic Letter. It can all be reduced to a single word: “Jesus Christ!”

At the very beginning of my Pontificate, and then many times since, I have cried to the children of the Church and to the world: “Open, open wide the doors to Christ.” I desire to cry this again, at the end of this Jubilee, at the beginning of this new millennium.

9. “All the peoples of the earth will adore you, O Lord!” This prophecy is already fulfilled in the heavenly Jerusalem, where all the just of the world, and especially the many witnesses to the faith, are mysteriously gathered in that holy city where there is no more sun, because its sun is the Lamb. Up there the angels and saints unite their voices to sing the praises of God.

The pilgrim Church on earth, in her Liturgy, in her proclamation of the Gospel, in her witness, echoes each day this celestial song. May the Lord grant that, in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, so as in history to be the true 'epiphany' of the merciful and glorious face of Christ the Lord. So be it!"

Papa Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Te Deum    
at the end of Holy Mass - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. In a few moments we will solemnly sing the Te Deum in thanksgiving to God for the priceless gift that the Holy Year has been for the Church and for humanity.

Joining us in giving thanks are the Dioceses of the whole world, which have intensely celebrated this Jubilee in constant communion with the Church of Rome. Nor can we forget the heartfelt participation of Christians belonging to other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, or the sharing by followers of other religions in the joy of Christians at this extraordinary event.

2. I feel the need at this time to express my sentiments of deep gratitude to the institutions and officials of the Italian Government, the Lazio Region, and the Province and Municipality of Rome for their generous commitment to making the Jubilee a success.

I thank the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee and those who collaborated in its various commissions and departments. I thank those who organized the sacred liturgies and prayer services, and those who offered the valuable service of listening to the pilgrims and hearing confessions.

My warm thanks to the police, to those who worked in the hospitality, information and health-care services; to the Roman Jubilee Agency and to the nearly 70,000 volunteers of every age and background who took turns continuously throughout the Jubilee Year; and to the families who welcomed pilgrims, especially the young people, into their homes. There are really so many who did their part:  they should all feel included in my deep, heartfelt gratitude.

In addition, I cannot fail to thank those who contributed spiritually to the Jubilee's success:  I am thinking of the cloistered nuns and monks, as well as the many people, especially the elderly and the sick, who constantly prayed and offered their sufferings for the Jubilee. In particular, I would like to thank the sick who gathered each month in the Basilica of St Mary Major and those who joined them from every part of Italy.

I thank everyone from my heart!

Chers pèlerins de langue française, je vous adresse un salut cordial. Au terme du grand Jubilé, je souhaite que vos démarches jubilaires portent des fruits de grâce, pour vous-mêmes, pour vos familles et pour vos communautés diocésaines. J'ai confiance que tout ce que vous avez réalisé fera grandir la foi dans vos pays et contribuera à une vie meilleure. Je vous accorde à tous une affectueuse Bénédiction apostolique.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking people taking part in this final act of the Great Jubilee: may the abundant graces and blessings of this Holy Year continue to touch your lives and truly fill your homes, your families and friends, and the entire world with the lasting fruits of faith, hope and love!

Herzlich grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Heute hat sich die Heilige Pforte geschlossen. Doch der Zugang zum lebendigen Christus bleibt immer offen. So ist der Schluß des Großen Jubiläums zugleich ein wichtiger Anfang: Christus wünscht sich einen neuen Aufbruch. Dazu begleite euch Gottes treuer Segen.

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española. Que el encuentro especial con Cristo que ha supuesto este Gran Jubileo y las gracias obtenidas a lo largo del mismo inspiren toda vuestra vida en los años venideros, haciendo de cada uno un testigo del amor y de la misericordia de Dios.

Amados Irmãos e Irmãs, o Jubileu foi realmente um Ano de Graça no Senhor. Levai para os vossos lares a certeza da paz e da misericórdia de Cristo, nossa Páscoa, e vivei com a firme esperança no Ressuscitado, pois Ele vos espera na Casa do Pai. Que Deus vos abençoe!

Zycze wszystkim moim Rodakom aby duchowe dary udzielone nam w czasie Wielkiego Jubileuszu nadal trwaly i przynosily owoce w zyciu osobistym, rodzinnym i spolecznym. Niech Chrystus "jedyny Zbawiciel Swiata" ubogaci wszystkich swoim blogoslawienstwem i prowadzi po drogach nowego tysiaclecia."

JPII - Saturday, 6 January 2001