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THE YEAR OF JUBILEE: A CHALLENGE TO RENEW OUR FAITH AND WITNESS


Nikol Baldacchino

As we are at the beginning of the year, the world is gripped by the millennium fever. It has  been years now since the words "Year 2000" grasped our attention and imagination. One can simply ask whether this magic is just going to be a really big party or just an extended  celebration. These will nevertheless fade away and leave us all empty and unchanged. Of course big celebrations will take place only in the Western World. In the impoverished countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia, this year will not change any of the poor people's  misery, hunger, malnutrition, and their lack of hope.

Then there are those who look at the new millennium as a fertile land for apocalyptic prophecies and warnings. Recently a book called "Millennium Prophecies" has been published. It includes prophetic utterings of Nostradamus regarding the Year 2000 and other more recent prophecies  by Richard Gayce. There are several "possibilities" for the Year 2000,  insist these counterfeit prophets - from the end of the world, to natural catastrophes to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Maybe the most common recent newspaper headlines told us about "the computer time bomb",  "big companies not prepared for the forthcoming changes" and "the millennium bug".
A recent survey in one industrialized country showed that for the majority of people interviewed, the word "millennium" meant "champagne", "big party", "computers" or a big long extended holiday! One can easily conclude that the Western World, duped by materialism and consumerism, lacks a clear vision and a specific goal for the New Millennium.
The Year 2000 is not just a change in the calendar. It should be an occasion where we celebrate the greatest event that ever happened in the whole history of humanity - the incarnation of the Son of God - God himself became Man and dwelt amongst us!
That is the reason why Pope John Paul II, has been for these last ten years or so, preaching on the true meaning of the Year 2000, and on the necessity to spiritually prepare ourselves in order to really grasp the significance of this event. The Year 2000 is a Year of Jubilee - a year of joy, of great celebrations. For us, believers in Jesus Christ we celebrate not just because a year is ending and a new millennium is starting; we are rejoicing because of what God has done with us through His Son, Jesus Christ. And we do this "through prayer of praise and thanksgiving  above all else for the gift of the incarnation of God's Son and for the redemption that He worked out for us" insisted Pope John Paul II.   
Yet, there is another important facet connected with the Jubilee celebrations. "The primary objective of the Jubilee is the renewal of the faith and of the witness of Christians" wrote John Paul II in his apostolic letter called
Tertio Millenio Adveniente. The Jubilee cannot but represent a great challenge to all of us: to renew our own commitment to Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior and to bear witness of Him to the men and women of our times.

Letting Jesus be the Lord of our
whole life

I believe this is the crux of it all: let's try, through the power of God's Spirit take up this Jubilee challenge - to be radical followers of Jesus Christ and more fervent and zealous proclaimers of his Gospel Message. After all, this is what the Renewal is all about - bringing a deep personal conversion, entering a deep personal relationship with the risen Lord; accepting Him as my personal Savior and opening my life to the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. Jesus must be the Lord of all my
whole life or he cannot be Lord at all.
There are far too many Christians, indeed persons labeling themselves as Charismatics - who want all the blessing of being Christian - such as forgiveness, healing, joy,  victory over difficulties, the support and care of community life, hope, eternal life - but they are not ready to pay the price of dying to their own life and letting Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior.
There can be no compromise when it comes to making Jesus the Lord of our lives. It is the only way to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit to work within our lives, to let God come to live inside us.
True Christianity is an all-out commitment to the Lord. The Savior is not looking for men and women who will give their spare evenings to Him - or their weekends, or their years of retirement. Rather, He seeks those who will give Him their first place in their lives.

The New Millennium: time to proclaim the Gospel anew
Moreover, the celebration of the Jubilee cannot just be a church event. Due to its very identity and mission of the Church, the celebration must impel us to be strong and real witnesses to Jesus before the whole world. John Paul stresses that
evangelization, or rather the new evangelization and the Year of Jubilee go hand in hand. Now has come the moment to dedicate all ecclesial forces to the new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes (Redemptoris Missio, no. 3).
How are we to do this? How can we reach the world for Christ with the Gospel in this new millennium? The answer is very simple: only by men and women, renewed by Gods Spirit, who love God with all their hearts and who love their neighbor as themselves. It is only the devotion and dedication that spring from an undying love to God that will ever accomplish the task. This is the mission of the Charismatic Renewal, indeed of the whole Church, in the years ahead.

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