TE DEUM AND FIRST VESPERS
OF THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Friday, 31 December 2004
1. Another year is coming to an end. With deep awareness of the fleetingness of time, we are gathered this evening to give thanks to God for all the gifts he has lavished upon us in 2004.
Let us do so with the traditional song of the Te Deum.
2. Te Deum laudamus! When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son (cf. Gal 4: 4) not to condemn the world but to save it with his immense love (cf. Jn 3: 17).
We give you thanks, Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, because you desired to take on our human nature from Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother. In this Year of the Eucharist, we would like to thank you even more intensely for the gift of your Body and your Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
We praise you and give you thanks, Holy Spirit, Paraclete, for you make us aware of our adoption as sons and daughters (cf. Rom 8: 16) and teach us to turn to God calling him Father, "Abba!" (cf. Jn 4: 23-24; Gal 4: 6).
3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Diocesan Community of Rome! I now offer you a cordial greeting at our end-of-the-year meeting. I first greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests, consecrated persons and every member of the Christian people. I greet respectfully the President of the Region, the Mayor of Rome, the President of the Province and the other civil Authorities who are here.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God together for the manifestations of kindness and mercy with which he has accompanied our City on its way in recent months. May he bring to completion every apostolic project and initiative for good.
4. "Salvum fac populum tuum, domine", "Save your people, Lord". We ask you this through Mary as this evening we celebrate the First Vespers of the feast of her divine Motherhood.
Holy Mother of the Redeemer, guide us as we cross the threshold into the New Year! Obtain the gift of peace for Rome and for the whole world! Mother of God, pray for us!