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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Dominum et vivificantem

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    • 1. Reason for the Jubilee of the Year 2000: Christ Who Was Conceived of the Holy Spirit
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1. Reason for the Jubilee of the Year 2000: Christ Who Was Conceived of the Holy Spirit


49. The Church's mind and heart turn to the Holy Spirit as this twentieth century draws to a close and the third Millennium since the coming of Jesus Christ into the world approaches, and as we look toward the great Jubilee with which the Church will celebrate the event. For according to the computation of time this coming is measured as an event belonging to the history of man on earth. The measurement of time in common use defines years, centuries and millennia according to whether they come before or after the birth of Christ. But it must also be remembered that for us Christians this event indicates, as St. Paul says, the "fullness of time,"193 because in it human history has been wholly permeated by the "measurement" of God himself: a transcendent presence of the "eternal now." He "who is, who was, and who is to come"; he who is "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."194 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."195 "When the time had finally come, God sent forth his Son, born of a that we might receive adoption as sons."196 And this Incarnation of the Son-Word came about "by the power of the Holy Spirit."

The two Evangelists to whom we owe the narrative of the birth and infancy of Jesus of Nazareth express themselves on this matter in an identical way. According to Luke, at the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus, Mary asks: "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" and she receives this answer: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."197

Matthew narrates directly: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit."198 Disturbed by this turn of events, Joseph receives the following explanation in a dream: "Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."199

Thus from the beginning the Church confesses the mystery of the Incarnation, this key-mystery of the faith, by making reference to the Holy Spirit. The Apostles' Creed says: "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary." Similarly, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed professed: "By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man."

"By the power of the Holy Spirit" there became man he whom the Church, in the words of the same Creed, professes to be the Son, of the same substance as the Father: "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made." He was made man by becoming "incarnate from the Virgin Mary." This is what happened when "the fullness of time had come."


50. The great Jubilee at the close of the second Millennium, for which the Church is already preparing, has a directly Christological aspect: for it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. At the same time it has a pneumatological aspect, since the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished "by the power of the Holy Spirit." It was "brought about" by that Spirit - consubstantial with the Father and the Son - who, in the absolute mystery of the Triune God, is the Person-love, the uncreated gift, who is the eternal source of every gift that comes from God in the order of creation, the direct principle and, in a certain sense, the subject of God's self-communication in the order of grace. The mystery of the Incarnation constitutes the climax of this giving, this divine self-communication.

The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace "the grace of union," source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.200 The great Jubilee refer to this work and also - if we penetrate its depths - to the author of this work, to the person of the Holy Spirit.

For the "fullness of time" is matched by a particular fullness of the self-communication of the Triune God in the Holy Spirit. "By the power of the Holy Spirit" the mystery of the "hypostatic union" is brought about - that is, the union of the divine nature and the human nature, of the divinity and the humanity in the one Person of the Word-Son. When at the moment of the Annunciation Mary utters her "fiat": "Be it done unto me according to your word,"201 she conceives in a virginal way a man, the Son of Man, who is the Son of God. By means of this "humanization" of the Word-Son the self-communication of God reaches its definitive fullness in the history of creation and salvation. This fullness acquires a special wealth and expressiveness in the text of John's Gospel: ''The Word became flesh."202 The Incarnation of God the Son signifies the taking up into unity with God not only of human nature, but in this human nature, in a sense, of everything that is "flesh": the whole of humanity, the entire visible and material world. The Incarnation, then, also has a cosmic significance, a cosmic dimension. The "first-born of all creation,"203 becoming incarnate in the individual humanity of Christ, unites himself in some way with the entire reality of man, which is also "flesh" 204-and in this reality with all "flesh," with the whole of creation.


51. All this is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so is part of the great Jubilee to come. The Church cannot prepare for the Jubilee in any other way than in the Holy Spirit. What was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit "in the fullness of time" can only through the Spirit's power now emerge from the memory of the Church. By his power it can be made present in the new phase of man's history on earth: the year 2000 from the birth of Christ.

The Holy Spirit, who with his power overshadowed the virginal body of Mary, bringing about in her the beginning of her divine Motherhood, at the same time made her heart perfectly obedient to that self-communication of God which surpassed every human idea and faculty. "Blessed is she who believed!"205: thus Mary is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth, herself "full of the Holy Spirit."206 In the words of greeting addressed to her "who believed" we seem to detect a distant (but in fact very close) contrast with all those about whom Christ will say that "they do not believe."207 Mary entered the history of the salvation of the world through the obedience of faith. And faith, in its deepest essence, is the openness of the human heart to the gift: to God's self-communication in the Holy Spirit. St. Paul write: "The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."208 When the Triune; God opens himself to man in the Holy Spirit, this opening of God reveals and also gives to the human creature the fullness of freedom. This fullness was manifested in a sublime way precisely through the faith of Mary, through the "obedience of faith"209: truly, "Blessed is she who believed!"


193. Cf. Gal 4:4.

194. Rev 1:8; 22:13.

195. Jn 3:16.

196. Gal 4:4f.

197. Lk 1:34f.

198. Mt 1:18.

199. Mt 1:20f.

200. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theo. IIIa, q. 2, aa. 10-12; q. 6, a. 6; q. 7, a. 13.

201. Lk 1:38.

202. Jn 1:14.

203. Col 1:15.

204. Cf., for example, Gen 9: 11; Deut 5:26; Job 34:15; Is 40:6; 42:10; Ps 145/144:21; Lk 3:6; 1 Pet 1:24.

205. Lk 1:45.

206. Cf. Lk 1:41.

207. Cf. Jn 16:9.

208. 2 Cor 3:17.

209. Cf. Rom 1:5.

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