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Jubilee 2000 Search


A.K. Obiefuna
Archibishop of Onitsha, President CBCN
M. Okoro
Bishop of Abakaliki, Secretary CBCN
A.J.V. Obinna
Archibishop of Owerri, Chairman National Jubilee Committee

1 . Introduction
The first year of preparation for the celebration of the Great Jubilee whose theme was: Jesus Christ the one Saviour of the World - Yesterday, Today and Forever - ended with the feast of Christ the King which we celebrated last Sunday. We rejoiced in the fact that Jesus Christ is our king: We prayed that Jesus Christ becomes king in our hearts more and more and we proclaimed publicly to the world that Jesus is the king of kings and king of the Universe. St. Paul forcefully reminds us «No one can say "Jesus is Lord", unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit» (1 Cor. 12:3). This Holy Spirit who led us through the Jubilee theme of 1 997 is the central theme for the 1998 preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

2. The Holy Spirit - gift of the Father
The Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son was gratuitously sent as a vital power to comfort, intercede, instruct and strengthen us, and to give us the complete truth. In fulfillment of lsaiah's prophecy, the divine plan was accomplished in and through Mary (Is. 9:5-6). This redemptive intervention in human history clearly mirrors the trinitarian harmony involved in man's salvation. According to the eternal saving plan of the Father the Holy Spirit came upon Mary who conceived the Divine Word made flesh (Jn 1:14).

3. The descent of the Holy Spirit
Christ in his farewell discourse promised his apostles the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7-8). On Pentecost day the Spirit descended on the apostles and the Church was born, (Act 2:1-4). The frightened apostles were transformed into brave proclaimers of the Good News. Filled with the Holy Spirit and encouraged by the promise of Christ «Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world» (Mt. 28:20), the apostles launched themselves with tremendous zeal into missionary activity. The community of believers like the Scriptural mustard seed blossomed under the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit.

4. The Holy Spirit on mission in the Early Church
The Holy Spirit sent by the Father through the Son continued to dwell in the Church inspiring and empowering her to undertake mission in accordance with the command and mandate of Jesus, «Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...» (Mt. 28:19). Thus the Holy Spirit was, already in the early Church, at work in individuals and in the community. Peter and the other apostles under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit were able to preach, convert and work miracles (Acts 3: 1 10;5:12-16). In the community of believers the Holy Spirit guided them infidelity to the apostles' teaching, communal life, prayer and in the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42-47). Stephen and his companions, appointed through and imbued by the Holy Spirit, ministered zealously to the early Church and bore courageous witness to the faith by shedding their blood (Acts 6:1-6; 7-15; 7:54-60). Mention should be made too of «Joseph to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means Son of encouragement)» who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit «sold a farm that he owned and made a donation of the money and laid it at the apostles' feet». (Acts 4:36-37). Paul was a fanatical Jew. The Holy Spirit chose and made him into a worthy instrument for the preaching of the Good News to the gentiles (Act 9:1-19). Especially during persecutions the Holy Spirit sustained the early Church and transformed the persecutions into auspicious means of spreading the Good News (Acts 8:1-3; 12:1-9,24).

5. The Holy Spirit on mission through the ages
«The mission of the church, like that of Jesus, is God's work... the work of the Holy Spirit» (Rm. 24). This work of the Holy Spirit can be seen in the life of the Church down through the ages. The growth and spread of the Church through many lands, the inner workings of ministries and functions within the Church, especially in the office of the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him as Successors of the apostles, are all evidences of the action of the Spirit in the Church. The same Holy Spirit guided and inspired the great early Church thinkers, theologians and apologists like Justin the Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius and Augustine who laid the foundations for Church Doctrine and facilitated the conversion of their contemporary cultures to Christianity. In the times of persecution, the Holy Spirit continued to inspire men and women to bear witness to their faith to the point of giving up their lives. The Sanctity of life which brilliantly blossomed in the lives of Christians down through the ages is the work of the Holy Spirit... apostles and martyrs, confessors and virgins, doctors of the Church, holy men and women from all walks of life, all who through their lives have courageously borne witness to the Good News. By the prompting of the Holy Spirit the Church has established institutions of learning, houses of spiritual formation and various works of charity and care for the disadvantaged. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit new Congregations have been founded. These have tirelessly cooperated in the missionary activity of the Church. In the face of crisis in the social order, the Church, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, has preached the gospel of social reform and justice in the economic order in the world through specific social teachings.

6. The Holy Spirit in our time
In our times too, the Holy Spirit continues to work in the lives of the faithful and in the community of believers. This is evident in the continued existence of the Church and the continued growth and spread of the Good News throughout the world. Just like in the time of the early Church and down the centuries, today «the Holy Spirit is indeed the principal agent of the Church's mission» (Rm, 21). The action of the Spirit as Evangelizer has resulted in the various synods of the Church, notably in our time the Second Vatican Council and the Special Assembly of Bishops for Africa, as well as in the recent call by Pope John Paul II for preparations for celebrating-the Great Jubilee Year 2000.
We are not only witnesses but also beneficiaries of this action of the Holy Spirit in our own time and in our own land as we can see from the impressive growth and spread of the Church, in the increase of vocations to the priestly and religious life, in the growing involvement of our Local Church in the missionary activity of the Church to foreign lands, in the vigour and commitment of the laity to their faith.

7. The Holy Spirit comes to act in us
The Holy Spirit who is the soul of the Church acts in us through the Word and Sacraments entrusted to the Church. Thus we encounter the Holy Spirit in the Word of God especially the Holy Scriptures read and interpreted within the Church. The Sacraments are channels of grace through the action of the Holy Spirit. Here we draw attention to the Sacrament of Confirmation which is the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit par excellence and through which we receive in a special way the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit. Imbued by this Spirit, we contribute to the establishment of justice and peace in our society, we are led not only to desire but also to fight for and implement good government and leadership in public affairs, we are challenged to reach out to others in dialogue and build bridges of friendship across cultures and other human barriers and thus we engage in the process of converting our cultures to Christ.

8. The Spirit blows where he wills
The action of the Holy Spirit in the world goes well beyond the visible boundaries of the Church. The Spirit which we received is the gratuitous gift of God who distributes his gifts as he wishes. In this year of the Holy Spirit we are challenged to acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in all who in faith have received baptism through water and the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit that has inspired in recent times a growing concern for the reunion of Christ's divided flock. We must, therefore, in the name of the Spirit pray earnestly and work tirelessly «that all may be one» (Jn 17:21).
Neither is the Spirit to be considered totally absent in those who with a sincere heart seek the true God in other religions outside the Christian faith. For as St. Paul told the pagans of Lystra, «God has not hidden Himself completely without a clue» (Acts 14:17). That is why in this year of the Holy Spirit, we should seek to discover His hidden action in all around us and seek to collaborate with all men and women of good will for the triumph of all that is good and just.

In union with Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, who humbly received the Holy Spirit and all the Saints whose lives were inspired by the Holy Spirit, we invoke the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with his fire of zeal, wisdom and love so that we may discern what the Holy Spirit is inviting us to do this year and Hereafter. We pray for the docility of heart to the Holy Spirit after the example of Mary and the Saints.
Come Holy Spirit, come fill our hearts so that in this year of preparation dedicated to you we may be stretigthened in faith and commitment to the service of the Gospel. As we on this 1st Sunday of Advent begin the 1998 year of preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000 with our focus on the Holy Spirit we invite all the faithful in the Church to stand up and sing the hymn:

«Come Holy Spirit, Creator come
From thy bright heavenly throne
Come take possession of our souls
And make them all thy own...»