How about we learn something new today? Well, some of you may already know this, so I’ll change my question. How about I learn something new today? What is a Jubilee? Why do I ask? We read about this today in our first reading from Leviticus. I don’t know how any of you feel about reading some of the “exciting” books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but my eyes tend to glaze over reading this stuff.
When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more;
when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less.
For it is really the number of crops that he sells you.
Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God.
I, the LORD, am your God.
That’s not nearly as exciting as our Gospel…
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
That sounds like the making of a Hollywood movie…I’m pretty sure it was a movie. Anyway, I digress – back to today’s lesson. I’ve recently found that when I’m stumped on the meaning behind a reading from our Mass, I’ll go to the footnotes of that particular passage and see if that can shed any light on what I’m reading. Here are the footnotes from our reading from Leviticus (LV 25: 1, 8-17):
[25:8–17] The fiftieth year is the jubilee, determined by counting off “seven weeks of years.” It is sacred, like the sabbath day. Specifically, in it indentured Israelites return to their own households and land that has been sold returns to its original owner. Different laws are found in Ex 21:1–6; Dt 15:1–3, 12–18 (cf. Jer 34:8–22).
The fiftieth year is the jubilee, determined by counting off “seven weeks of years.” It is sacred, like the sabbath day.
Reading that, my mind starting wandering the way it usually does and then I thought, I wonder how we define the word Jubilee. So I went to Merriam-Webster on line and found this…
Definition of jubilee
(Entry 1 of 2)
when every one of you shall return to his own property,
every one to his own family estate.