1. The Holy Year of 2000, when the Church will celebrate the Second
Millennium of the birth of Jesus, her Lord and Saviour, is a "year of
jubilee" and also a "liturgical year". These two aspects cannot
be separated, but must vivify that unique period of time in which the
chronological date, inherent in the number 2000, and the mystical date, that of
the sacramental celebration of the mystery of Christ, are harmoniously welded
The Jubilee Year in Scripture
2. It is usual, when discussing witht he faithful the significance of the
values of a "holy year", to refer to the institution of the
"jubilee year" of the the people of Israel. According to Leviticus
every fiftieth year, that is the year after "seven weeks of years"
(Lv 25:8), was a kind of great sabbatical year: the land was to rest, thus it
remained untilled; fields and houses which had been sold returned to their
previous owners; slaves were liberated and insolvent debtors were freed from
Te institution of the "jubilee year" was inspired by principles of
social justice which recalled the origins of Israel when the Promised Land was
divided between the twelve tribes (cf. Gs 13-21): the land, as it belonged to
God, could not be sold in perpetuity; the initial parcelling out of the land
could not be simply abolished by a few people accumulating it over a period of
time; the Hebrews, freed by God from slavery in Egypt, could not be slaves of
3. The celebration of the "holy year" also recalls the "year
of grace" inaugurated by Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-20),
and the "year of mercy" which the vinedresser asks of the master in
the hope that the sterile fig would bear fruit (cf. Lk 13:5-9).
Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed who, according to the
prophetic word was "sent to announce a joyful message to the poor (...) and
to preach a year of favour" (Lk. 4:18-19); (cf. Is 61:1-2).
Jesus is also, obviously, the vinedresser of the parable who asks the master
- the Father, rich in mercy (cf. Eph 2:4), for a "year of mercy" in
the hope that the sterile fig - man, unfaithful to the Covenant - would bring
forth the fruit of holiness and justice.
The year 2000, marked wityh that great sign of being the Second Millenium
from the birth of the Messiah Saviour, is that "year of grace", that
"year of mercy", always available, in which man is called to receive
the joyful message and be converted to God. If he does not welcome the Word and
be converted, there will be no year of grace, no year of mercy, no jubilee year.