For those who date the birth of Jesus from zero, this Christmas season was his 2,000th birthday. Aware of that, my son Joel asked, “Dad, you read all the periodicals and notices? Were you impressed by how little anyone made of that?” I rechecked the periodicals and notices and was indeed impressed. Bethlehem had been closed by the renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the special celebrations were canceled. The figurative 2,000th birthday was indeed greeted rather joylessly.
The Year 2000 was a Jubilee Year for Catholicism, designed to be a joyful time “Urbi et Orbi,” to “the City and the World.” But it will be remembered for the jarring document “Domine Iesus,” a joyless text that evoked joylessness outside the Vatican.