Skip to content

Proclaim a jubilee

by davesandel on July 31st, 2021

Saturday, July 31, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Proclaim a jubilee

When you sell any land to your neighbor or buy any from him, do not deal unfairly. On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee shall you purchase the land from your neighbor and so also, on the basis of the number of years for crops, shall he sell it to you. For it is really the number of crops that he sells you. Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God.

Yahweh intended his children of Israel to depend on him, not on ownership. That starts with Sabbath every seven days, but there would be far more surrender of control and power than that.

Seven weeks of years shall you count, then on the tenth day of the seventh month, let the trumpet sound and re-sound throughout your land. For you shall make sacred this fiftieth year by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when every one of you shall return to his own property.

So that means that if I “own” property God deeded to someone else, I must give it up at the beginning of the year of jubilee, because the God-ordained owner will return. In this way all of us retain what God gives us and will not permanently claim anything more for our own. As this command from God is obeyed, wars and lawyers will be no more.

But it has not been obeyed, not from the very beginning. And in 1521, when the Duke summoned Ignatius from Loyola to Pamplona, it was only to fight in another of a long line of wars over power and property. No one had any intention of listening to God’s command for a year of jubilee. No one with power was about to give it up.

Early in the battle Ignatius was hit in the leg by a cannonball, and so began his gradual discovery of God in his life. As his power was taken from him, he submitted to God’s power, and found it far more satisfying.

May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth.

Ignatius’ wound was made worse by the surgeons, although at least he lived. He walked with a severe limp all his life and couldn’t share the Gospel as a traveling missionary for his order: the Society of Jesus, eventually named the Jesuits. Ignatius found others, like Francis Xavier, to do the traveling, while he stayed home and wrote his Spiritual Exercises, which has inspired so many tens of thousands (including me) to make their own inner spiritual pilgrimage, from the land they thought belonged to them to what God gave them in the first place.

Herod had arrested John the Baptist, bound him and put him in prison. Although he wanted to kill John, he feared the people, for they regarded John as a prophet.

How did Herod get away from the jubilee idea? He claimed everything and everyone for himself, and he even murdered sons who dared to question his control. John was screaming from the hilltops that all of us must repent and be baptized, see the world with fresh eyes, turn our ideas of human power inside out.

Jesus came behind him, preaching a gentle lifestyle of giving and giving some more. In fact, Jesus taught that claiming human power and position made kings and princes last in the Kingdom of God. “Whoever is last shall be first, and whoever is first shall be last.” Surely those words echoed in Herod’s mind at night, as he was beguiled by Herodias and left sleepless in his paranoia and guilt.

Late at night Herod had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought in upon the platter and given to the daughter of Herodias, who took it to her mother.

Herod contracted syphilis and died. Ignatius walked with a limp but lived. Moses did not live long enough to oversee the first jubilee, but died at the borders of the Promised Land. Jesus, as we know, suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

Since the Jubilee Year doesn’t happen physically, I look for ways to experience it spiritually. It may or may not take fifty years, but I WILL at last offer what I’ve claimed incorrectly as my own, back to God. New neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi died of lung cancer while he wrote the book about this experience in his own life. When Breath Becomes Air when what I’ve assumed belonged to me no longer does … when it returns to whence it came …

Do not deal unfairly then, but stand in fear of your God.

(Leviticus 25, Psalm 67, Matthew 5, Matthew 14)

(posted at


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: