2000 AD: The Year of Jubilee

by Fr. Charles Irvin

January, 1997



The Book of Leviticus sets forth the Holy Years, the Sabbatical Years and the Years of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:1-19). They were special years of grace in which God’s people would return to Him by returning to their homes, by returning to their families, recovering the freedom and security of belonging to the place and the families that nurtured them, especially if they have been alienated from them. They were years of restoration to grace, restoration to their homes, restoration to their people, and restoration to their God.

 

     "You will declare this fiftieth year sacred and 
      proclaim the liberation of all the inhabitants of 
      the land. This is to be a jubilee for you; each of 
      you will return to his ancestral home, each to his 
      own clan. This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year  
      for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the
      ungathered corn, you will not gather from the untrimmed
      vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will
      eat what comes from the fields. 
      In this year of jubilee each of you is to return  
      to his ancestral home. " 
                                (Leviticus 25:1-14)

Forgiveness of debt, forgiveness of past offenses and sins and restoration by return to an original condition were the hallmarks of such Jubilee Years. Going back home to God and going back home to the family in which one finds God was the central grace in such years, years of redemption, years of recovery of innocence.

Could we not, as Catholics, do that in celebration of the Jubilee Year of 2,000 A.D.? Could we not sound the Shofar and call all of our alienated brothers and sisters back home? Would that not be a sweet sound in their ears, a call reaching into their hearts and souls to return to that place, the Catholic Church, in which they were raised in order to be restored to our family of faith?

 

 

For that to happen, for the scales to fall from their eyes, for the chains imprisoning their souls to be cut, and for their hearts to have the courage to return they would need to be relieved of the burdens of guilt that imprison them and weigh them down. Their bonds would have to be cut away. They would need special love, the sort of love the Prodigal Son experienced from his father when he responded to God’s grace, got up and returned home to his father’s house.

Could we not, in order to celebrate such a Jubilee Year, the 2,000th year in the life of our Church, absolve them from their sins, recognize and bless their bad marriages, and celebrate the Messianic Banquet with them?

I dream of a Jubilee Year, the year 2,000 A.D., when all alienated and estranged Catholics freely return to our Church in joy and gladness. I dream of gigantic Reconciliation Services in various civic centers filled with thousands of returning Catholics seeking to have their sins forgiven in Jubilee celebrations of General Absolution. I dream of having them register their present marriages in our family of faith, of having these “bad” marriages blessed and convalidated. I dream of these people being thereupon restored to our Holy Communion, a communion of faith in which our Redeeming Lord Jesus is truly present to bless, heal, forgive, redeem and sanctify them. There are ways, relatively simple ways, of recognizing and sanctifying their present marriages, of forgiving them their many sins, and of restoring them to their rightful places in our Family of Faith.

I dream of a Jubilee Year of full, genuine and joyful restoration of thousands upon thousands of prodigal sons and daughters who, with hearts overwhelmed by our love, enter the year of our Lord, 2,000, forgiven, restored and graced, who thereupon enter the next millennium with confidence, hope, and renewed faith, empowered by the Risen Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who raised Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ of Glory, victorious over sin, alienation and death.

I am asking all of you parents and grandparents of children who have left the Church, all of you who have friends alienated from our Household of Faith to pray for such an event. I am asking all of you godparents of the baptized and sponsors of the confirmed to join in a great Crusade of Prayer, praying that our Holy Father and our bishops will assent to such a celebration, and not only assent to it but enthusiastically and joyfully support and promote such a Jubilee Year. I am asking that we not be like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son but that we be those with attitudes exactly opposite to his, that we put on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ and put on the mind and heart of the prodigal son’s father and ask our Holy Father here on earth to joyfully grant us this wish and to celebrate the Banquet.

For the work of Jesus Christ is the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus opened His public ministry by going back to His own home town of Nazareth, entering the synagogue where He opened the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and read:

     "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. " (Luke 4:18-19)

 

What greater way could we possibly follow in entering the next thousand years in the history of our Church? We could make history with such an event. We could take God at His word and actually live out, in our own Holy Catholic Church, the heart and desire of God as He expressed it in His Word proclaimed in the Book of Leviticus and in His Son born among us, calling us to celebrate Holy Years, Years of Jubilee, and years of Redemption that are truly years of our Lord.


About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”