Jubilee Year of Mercy

B hat borderedLent is here and it’s time for my weekly posts called 4 Minutes 4 Growth.

This Lent we will pursue the topic of Mercy in Relationships.

Pope Francis proclaimed this to be a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Let’s start with understanding this a bit better.

What is a Jubilee?

In the Old Testament, God proclaimed to Moses that every seven years a Sabbath year should be proclaimed when the land, and by extension its workers, should be given a rest. After seven Sabbath years, a fiftieth year would be proclaimed as a Year of Jubilee.

8 ” Count off seven sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.” (Leviticus 25:8-12 NIV)

Here are some of the above elements broken down and suggestions for how to apply them today:

  • Day of Atonement – Forgive yourself. Forgive others’ debts to you. Ask for other’s forgiveness.
  • Sound the trumpet – Rejoice! Celebrate!
  • Consecrate the fiftieth year – Declare or set apart sacred time, a year to discover the better life God offers you.
  • Proclaim liberty throughout the land– Commit to release yourself and others from the shackles of injustice, addiction, dependence, negative habits, and attitudes.
  • A jubilee for you – Focus on yourself, for others.
  • Return to your family property – Slaves were freed in a Jubilee year and returned to their homes. Return to your homeland. Go home again and see what home can teach you about yourself. Or take a pilgrimage, pondering what has enslaved you, and how you can be freed.
  • Each to his own clan – Reunite with family, reconnect, make peace, reaffirm your roots.
  • Do not sow, reap, or harvest Refuse to worry. Trust in God’s provision for what is necessary and even abundant.
  • Eat only what is taken directly from the fieldsSubsist or simplify, so you have time to ponder.
  • For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you Where is God in your life? First? What does holy mean to you? What would make this year holy?
  • For you Realize what a gift God offers us in rest, forgiveness, celebration, family, and even work.

A few more notes on Jubilees:

In the Old Testament, a Jubilee year was a year of remission of sins, slavery, and debts, therefore, preeminently a time of joy.

Some believe that Jesus proclaimed a Jubilee year when he read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” then rolled up the scroll and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21

The Catholic Church has often proclaimed Jubilee Years, beginning in 1300. It symbolizes a Holy Year by un-bricking a particular door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In 2000, Catholic Churches throughout the world celebrated the year as a Jubilee Holy Year. Each parish designated a particular door as their Holy Year Door in a campaign to Open Wide the Doors to Christ. Passing through a holy door harkens back to the idea of a guilty person asking for sanctuary or immunity from punishment by entering a church. Priests, nuns, and monks have long celebrated their Jubilees, or 50th anniversary of religious profession, and tenacious married couples celebrate a Golden Jubilee when they have been married 50 years.

The Jubilee 2000 Coalition petitioned the world to proclaim a Jubilee Year and cancel the debts of the earth’s poorest countries. Then-President Clinton offered a Jubilee debt forgiveness to Third World countries who would spend the money on children instead. Canada and England followed his lead.

Near the same time, the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency petitioned President Clinton to release, on supervised parole, Federal prisoners serving long sentences for low-level, nonviolent offenses.

So Pope Francis has asked the world to celebrate a Jubilee Year (a year of remission or pardon) based on Mercy. But…

What is mercy?

In the Merriam Webster dictionary, mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The Christian tradition, however, adds another element to the word, focusing on kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad situation, or a willingness to help anyone in need.

In the weeks ahead during this special, holy year, we will look at what mercy might mean in our relationships, whether relating to God, ourselves, our families, or our communities. Until next week’s email, think about what Mercy means to you and when you have granted it, denied it, or received it.

Blessings on your first week of Lent!

Betty Arrigotti
Author of Christian Love Stories:
  Hope and a Future (Oaktara 2010)
  Where Hope Leads (Oaktara 2012)
  When the Vow Breaks (CreateSpace 2015)






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