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In Mary we see all Mothers about to give birth


12 December 1999


Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

1. Today the liturgy invites us to joy, because "the Lord is near" (Phil 4,5). Now his birth is near, and the Great Jubilee is near, which will be like extending the feast of the mystery of the Incarnation throughout the year, two thousand years since the coming of the Son of God in the humility of our human nature.

It is Christ himself, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, who explains the reasons for this joy: "The Spirit of the Lord," he proclaimed, "is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor" (Lk 4, 18; Cf, Is 61,1). On the eve of the new millennium, the Church makes this message of hope her own and proclaims "the year of the Lord's favor" (Is 61,2), inviting everyone to draw from the very source of grace, Jesus Christ, the Man-God, Redeemer of man and center of history.

2. One of the popular expressions of the joyful expectation of Christmas is the preparation of the nativity scene in families. In Christian homes these days a special corner is found to display the statuettes, leaving space, between Mary and Joseph, for the Child. In thinking of all the Christian families who are setting up their nativity scenes, I gladly bless you, dear boys and girls of Rome who, coordinated by the Roman Oratory Center, have come in great numbers carrying the figure of the Child Jesus. May Christmas which is now near, the beginning of the Great Jubilee, inspire you and all believers in every part of the world to prepare a worthy dwelling place to welcome Christ.

Precisely so that in every quarter there may be more welcoming places of worship, in the diocese of Rome today a day of prayer and of collection of offerings is being held for the construction of new churches in the outskirts of the City. While I thank all those who over the years, have collaborated in this initiative, I hope that in the zones where there still is no church one will soon arise with attached parish structures, as real reference points for the spiritual and communitarian life of so many persons and families.

3. Mary accompanies us in this road toward the Holy Night, she who guards the secret of joy. Her immaculate heart is full of joyful anticipation for the coming of God and the fulfillment of his promises.

In the nativity scene, the image of the Virgin attracts our attention in a very special way. In her we see all the mothers who prepare to give birth to a child. In her we recognize all the women who surround the great mystery of life with care and love. May the Lord's Mother help us to soon reach our appointment with Christmas, preparing our heart to receive Jesus.

Priests for Life
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