Jubilee and the Lord’s Prayer
The year of Jubilee looked forward to the restoration of God’s kingdom, like the Our Father prayer Jesus taught to his disciples:
Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-15
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
Like the Lord’s prayer, the Jubilee oriented all life and activity towards God the Father, whose will was expressed in the laws summed up by Jesus as love of God and neighbor (Mark 12:29-31; Matthew 22:37-40).
Celebrants of the Jubilee received daily bread directly from God without sowing or reaping, giving the land a year of rest (Leviticus 25:11-12).
The Jubilee commenced at the blast of the ram’s horn (shofar/trumpet) on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. Those who were forgiven by God forgave others. Thus all debts were cancelled at the end of every seven-year period, including the year of Jubilee (Deuteronomy 15:1).
Before Jesus told the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Peter asked him:
“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”Matthew 18:21-22
The numbers seven and seventy-seven recall the remission of debts in the Sabbatical and Jubilee years.
Love of God and Neighbor
The law of love expressed in the Jubilee decree continues to inspire popes, bishops, scholars, contemplatives, and ordinary people in their search for wisdom in building a just and merciful society.
Justice and mercy honor the Creator
Whose image is inscribed upon our neighbor.
Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbor or buy any from your neighbor, do not deal unfairly with one another.Leviticus 25:14
Do not deal unfairly with one another, then; but stand in fear of your God. I, the Lord, am your God.Leviticus 25:17
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, What Does the Church Say About Debt and Jubilee? (2011)