The Jubilee, centred on the person of Christ,
thus becomes a great act of praise to the Father: "Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before
the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before
him" (Eph 1:3-4).
50. In this third year the sense of being on a "journey to the Father" should
encourage everyone to undertake, by holding fast to Christ the Redeemer of man, a journey
of authentic conversion. This includes both a "negative" aspect, that of
liberation from sin, and a "positive" aspect, that of choosing good, accepting
the ethical values expressed in the natural law, which is confirmed and deepened by the
Gospel. This is the proper context for a renewed appreciation and more intense celebration
of the Sacrament of Penance in its most profound meaning. The call to conversion as
the indispensable condition of Christian love is particularly important in contemporary
society, where the very foundations of an ethically correct vision of human existence
often seem to have been lost.
It will therefore be necessary, especially
during this year, to emphasize the theological virtue of charity, recalling
the significant and lapidary words of the First Letter of John: "God is
love" (4:8,16). Charity, in its twofold reality as love of God and
neighbour is the summing up of the moral life of the believer. It has in God
its source and its goal.
51. From this point of view, if we recall
that Jesus came to "preach the good news to the poor" (Mt 11:5; Lk 7:22),
how can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church's preferential option for the poor and the outcast? Indeed,
it has to be said that a commitment to justice and peace in a world like
ours, marked by so many conflicts and intolerable social and economic
inequalities, is a necessary condition for the preparation and celebration
of the Jubilee. Thus, in the spirit of the Book of Leviticus (25:8-12),
Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the
world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among
other things, to reducing substantially, if not cancelling outright, the
international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations. The
Jubilee can also offer an opportunity for reflecting on other challenges of
our time, such as the difficulties of dialogue between different cultures
and the problems connected with respect for women's rights and the promotion
of the family and marriage.
52. Recalling that "Christ ... by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and
his love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear",(34)
two commitments should characterize in a special way the third preparatory year: meeting
the challenge of secularism and dialogue with the great religions.
With regard to the former, it will be fitting to broach the vast subject of the crisis
of civilization, which has become apparent especially in the West, which is highly
developed from the standpoint of technology but is interiorly impoverished by its tendency
to forget God or to keep him at a distance. This crisis of civilization must be countered
by the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity,
justice and liberty, which find their full attainment in Christ.
53. On the other hand, as far as the field of
religious awareness is concerned, the eve of the Year 2000 will provide a
great opportunity, especially in view of the events of recent decades, for interreligious
dialogue, in accordance with the specific guidelines set down by the
Second Vatican Council in its Declaration Nostra Aetate on the
relationship of the Church to non-Christian religions.
In this dialogue the Jews and the Muslims ought to have a pre-eminent place. God grant
that as a confirmation of these intentions it may also be possible to hold joint
meetings in places of significance for the great monotheistic religions.
In this regard, attention is being given to
finding ways of arranging historic meetings in places of exceptional
symbolic importance like Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Mount Sinai as a means of
furthering dialogue with Jews and the followers of Islam, and to arranging
similar meetings elsewhere with the leaders of the great world religions.
However, care will always have be taken not to cause harmful
misunderstandings, avoiding the risk of syncretism and of a facile and
54. In this broad perspective of commitments, Mary Most Holy, the
highly favoured daughter of the Father, will appear before the eyes of
believers as the perfect model of love towards both God and neighbour. As
she herself says in the Canticle of the Magnificat,
great things were done for her by the Almighty, whose name is holy (cf. Lk 1:49).
The Father chose her for a unique mission in the history of
salvation: that of being the Mother of the long-awaited Saviour. The Virgin
Mary responded to God's call with complete openness: "Behold, I am the
handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Her motherhood, which began in
Nazareth and was lived most intensely in Jerusalem at the foot of the Cross,
will be felt during this year as a loving and urgent invitation addressed to
all the children of God, so that they will return to the house of the Father
when they hear her maternal voice: "Do whatever Christ tells you"
(cf. Jn 2:5).