What Does “Jubilee” Mean?

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Jubilee years have a deep history in the Hebrew scriptures. According to Leviticus, slaves and prisoners were freed, debts forgiven, land and possessions returned to their rightful owners. Perhaps most important, during such a year the mercy of God would be manifested.

The word “jubilee” is based on the Hebrew yobel. The word described a “trumpet-blast of liberty" according to the Septuagint, the early translation from Hebrew into Greek.

Just as the ancient Hebrews forgave debts, so the Church today, in the words of Pope Francis, ”has an endless desire to show mercy.” 

The Holy Father states it clearly: “This is an opportune moment to change our lives.”

The Church's custom of calling jubilee years dates back to the sixteenth century. Since then, there here have been only 26 ordinary Holy Year celebrations. So the current celebration is something extraordinary.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father calls on sinners to repent, reminding us that “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”

Our prayer today: Dear Jesus, give me the wisdom and courage so that I may become an island of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.”


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