To help the People of God prepare for the great Jubilee of 2000, Bl. John Paul II gave us the encyclical As the Third Millennium Draws Near (Nov. 10, 1994). In it he dedicated the years 1997 to 1999 to the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, reserving the last year for God the Father.
Eighteen years have elapsed since this encyclical was penned and perhaps each one of us, looking within our own hearts, feels a disconnect from those days of expectation. Perhaps just like the Y2K hype turned out to be “nothing,” the spiritual readiness and fervor of those days of looking forward to the Great Jubilee has all but completely evaporated from our hearts. This, of course, is the complete antithesis of the purpose of both the encyclical and the Great Jubilee that followed. Thus focusing on God the Father, let us take another look at the said encyclical, this time from within the perspective of the time lapse that has occurred since it was written. For many reasons, it should have even more meaning for us today.
“As the third millennium of the new era draws near, our thoughts turn spontaneously to the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman’ (Gal. 4:4). The fullness of time coincides with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Son who is of one being with the Father, and with the mystery of the Redemption of the world. In this passage, Saint Paul emphasizes that the Son of God was born of woman, born under the Law, so that they might receive adoption as sons and daughters. And he adds, ‘Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’ His conclusion is truly comforting: ‘So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir'” (Gal. 4:6-7; Preparing for the Year 2000, Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1996).