The Coming of the Third Millennium, the Year 2000 AD, the Jubilee
(The first in a series of short articles on the Jubilee year 2000)
The Pope wrote a letter to the whole church that was published in
1994 announcing that the year 2000 would be a Jubilee year and
asking the church to begin preparing.
That's great! That's wonderful, but when I heard about it I just
had just one small question. What's a Jubilee? It sounds like
something important and joyful, but I wasn't sure whether I should
go on a pilgrimage, or sit and pray, or help decorate my parish
church, or what.
It turns out that a Jubilee is a year of reconciliation with God,
and our families, and our neighbors, of receiving favors and
blessings from God, a year of the remission of sins and of the
punishment we deserve from them. Pope John Paul says it's to be a
new springtime for the church, and that's us, we're the church.
There are records of Jubilee years in the church dating from 1300
and indications are that they were celebrated before that.
Normally these occur every twenty five years, but this one is
special because it marks the beginning of the third thousand year
period since the Word of God, Jesus, came to become one of us, a
Personally I can identify with the idea of this kind of
celebration. We who are married celebrate each anniversary, but
some are extra special, like when we complete 25 years, our silver
anniversary, and very especially when we celebrate 50 years, our
golden anniversary. The church is like that and certainly 2000
years deserves an extra special celebration.
It turns out that the idea of Jubilee years goes back far into the
Old Testament, to the book of Leviticus. In the 25th chapter, God
commands Moses to set aside each 50th year as sacred and tells how
it is to be observed. Take the time to read it and meditate on
God's words to his chosen people and consider how his commands
could be applied to our time.
Since this is a particularly significant Jubilee, the Pope has
asked all of us to begin to prepare for it starting this year.
Now, I've gotten into this late and I suspect you have too, so we
need to begin right now, today. Try to find a copy of the
Apostolic letter, it's called "Tertio Millennio Adveniente". Most
Catholic book stores will have it and it's even available on the
internet, (go to www.ewtn.com, go into the library and download
"jp2third.txt" for the full letter, or "springtm.txt for a
summary, then call it into a word processor and print it).
In the time left in 1996, pray and read to learn what a Jubilee
year is, as always, come to the sacraments, especially the
Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, and be reconciled with
God. In 1997 we will be called to consider who Jesus is, to us and
for us, then in 1998 we will do the same for the Holy Spirit, and
in 1999 for God the Father. Finally in the year 2000, if we have
prepared, there will be a springtime of great joy and blessings
for all of us who profess the one, holy, catholic and apostolic
May God bless you and guide you as we all prepare.
The Coming of the Third Millennium, Jubilee 2000
How do we prepare?
(The second in a series of short articles on the Jubilee year
OK, now you know that the Pope has asked the church to
prepare for the coming of the third millennium by celebrating the
year 2000 as a Jubilee year. You even know that this will be a
celebration, that it'll mean a special time of renewal and rebirth
in the church, a springtime. We even know it'll be time of favors
and blessings from God. Great! Now what?
We Catholics always start anything dedicated to God with the
sign of the cross. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Spirit." Appropriately enough, the Holy Father
suggests that we dedicate 1997 to Jesus, the Son of God; 1998 to
the Holy Spirit and finally 1999 to God the Father. Each year will
be a time of preparation, a time to pray, to study and to draw
near to God.
Our bishops have asked that we begin the time of preparation
for the year of Jesus, in Advent of 1996. It's interesting that we
just finished what's called "ordinary time" with the feast of
Christ the King on November 24th. The gospel of the feast presents
us with an extraordinary picture of Jesus as the God King,
surrounded by the angels, seated on a royal throne judging all
mankind. It shows Him separating us into those destined for Heaven
and those destined for an eternity in hell. The image could be
depressing except for the fact that we, the living, can always
decide to make a new start, no matter what we've done in the past.
The Church begins the new cycle in Advent with readings of
expectation, of anticipation that the savior, the messiah, is
It's a time of excitement, of celebration and yet do we
really consider why we exchange gifts at this time of year, why we
gather with people we love. Is it just a custom? Do you just
exchange "season's greetings"? Is it just a season?
This year let it be the year of Jesus, the Son of God.
Christmas is the remembrance of the birthday of Jesus. It's His
birthday party! Wouldn't it be strange if we ignored Him?
Certainly we give gifts to those we love, but it should be because
of our joy in sharing the love of God. That's the crux of the
season, that's the point. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, the
Christ, so please begin with the Advent season to make this year
Now I don't know about you, but when I'm preparing for a
celebration, I do a lot of cleaning and I start with myself.
That's where we need to start getting ready for Christmas. Our
parish will have a penance service and that'll be a high priority
for me. I need to be clean spiritually as well as physically.
Isn't it odd, but when I clean up for someone else, it makes me
feel good too. No preparation for Christmas is complete without
the sacrament of reconciliation. It's the place to start.
Most holidays include a big family meal. Use that custom to
prepare for Christmas and the year dedicated to Jesus. Spiritually
we need nourishing food to be healthy, the food of life, the
Eucharist. Begin in Advent to attend mass at least on Sundays and
holidays, but find other times too. Come when it's convenient, and
come when it's not convenient. If you truly want your faith to
grow feed it with frequent reception of the Eucharist. Weekday
mass is special, so too is Saturday morning mass. If you can, come
15 minutes early and prepare with us by joining in the morning
prayers of the liturgy of the hours.
Above all, start with daily prayer. Come to know Jesus by
spending time with him. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time
every day. The results will surprise you!
May God bless you and guide you as we all prepare.
The first year of the immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee
(The third in a series of articles on the Jubilee Year 2000)
This is the Year when we will reflect on Christ, the nature of
faith and the Sacrament of Baptism
I guess we should start with the question that Jesus posed
to Peter. "Who do you say that I am?" We as Catholics must take
those words to heart, and over the next year must prayerfully
examine what we ourselves believe and what our church teaches. In
addition we must examine our consciences to see what difference
our beliefs have made in our lives.
Who is He? Well, in the creed at mass we say we believe "in
Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord". Stop there and ask what
that means to you personally.
The name Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves". That's the name
given Him by His Father through the angel Gabriel when he appeared
to a young Jewish girl named Mary. It expresses both His identity
and His mission. We poor wretched creatures who were made in the
image of God had wandered so far from God that there was literally
no hope for us. Frankly we deserved an eternity of suffering and
damnation, and yet for all that the Father loved us. In the depths
of our sinfulness, God sent Jesus, His eternal son to save us, to
redeem us. That's the reason for joy at Christmas, not lighted
trees, or Santa Claus, or family meals. God loves us! God sent
Jesus into our world as a man like us, except for sin, so that we
could share in the glory of God! That's the cause for rejoicing,
that's why we sing carols, that's why we set up nativity scenes,
to remind us of how greatly God loves us!!! Anything else is
The very name Jesus has become a prayer. In the year ahead
notice how often the church uses it. All liturgical prayer ends
with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ". This is the "name
above every other name". Many of the martyrs died with the one
word "Jesus" on their lips. Do we treat it with the reverence it
deserves, I hope so. In the year ahead let's make a firm
resolution to make it the center of our prayer life. When we're
tempted to sin, to do something against God's laws, say that word
again and again. The devils fear that name, they tremble at it,
even on the lips of we frail creatures. Use it as a shield, use it
as a weapon. The Eastern churches teach what they call the Jesus
Prayer, simply say as you breathe in and out, "Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner". This is a beautiful and
powerful way to draw close to God, to still your soul, to come to
peace in the midst of turmoil. Try it in the year ahead!!
Jesus is called the Christ. No, it's not his second name,
it's a title. The word comes from the Greek translation of the
Hebrew word Messiah, which means "anointed". In Old Testament
times, those consecrated to God for a mission were anointed. This
was done to kings, to priests and sometimes to prophets. Jesus
fulfilled the mission of the messiah hoped for by Israel and is at
one time priest, prophet and king. His consecration occurred at
the moment of His baptism by John when the Holy Spirit descended
on Him in the form of a dove. The Father anointed Him, the Holy
Spirit was the anointing. His works and words showed He is the
Holy One of God.
Deep stuff, isn't it!! It'll take a year to just begin to
probe it. Please take this seriously. Meditate on it, ponder it,
pray over it and about it. Is Jesus your Lord? Remember, to
confesss or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in His divinity.
Scripture says "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy
Spirit". All of us have been baptized, most of us have been
confirmed. By those two sacraments we were consecrated to God, in
those two sacraments we were anointed and the Holy Spirit dwells
within us. Because of this, we can turn to God the Father as our
Father, and to Jesus as our brother and can always expect help in
living a holy life. It's all there for the asking!! In 1997, ask
for help and you'll receive it, seek it and you'll find i
t, knock on the door of holiness and it'll be opened to you. It's
time to begin, to make a new start, so let's go!
Deacon John Taylor, St. Mary of the Mission Parish, Opelika,
Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN Online Services.