On Sunday, 1/24/2016, we hear how Jesus goes into the synagogue of Nazareth, opens the scroll, and reads from Isiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
We have all heard this Gospel many times, but until this year I had missed something very important. Jesus proclaims this is a “year acceptable to the Lord.” For me, I always thought that meant that He was going to begin His ministry and adhere to the Father’s will. And that is correct, but there is so much more in that phrase, “a year acceptable to the Lord.”
If you go back to the Old Testament, you actually read about similar events. In Exodus, chapter 23, we read about the Sabbatical year. The Sabbatical year was every seventh year. It called for the relaxation of debt, feeding of the poor, and release of slaves. This was much like the Gospel reading.
In Leviticus 25, an additional year of mercy was proclaimed every 50 years. So, in year 49, a sabbatical year, all the mercies of the Sabbatical year observation occurred. In year 50, a jubilee year, there was a double observation of the Sabbatical year mercies. In the Jubilee year, you had forgiveness of debt, freeing of slaves, and return of ancestral property.
The jubilee year was a year when all the chaos brought by the Fall of Man was reoriented to order through the practice of mercy. This mercy was shown by man to other men. Peace and harmony was to be restored in relationships.
Now fast forward to Jesus’ proclamation. When He proclaimed “a year acceptable to the Lord”, He was proclaiming a Jubilee year.
But in this Jubilee year, instead of the focus being man showing mercy to man, it was the Father showing mercy to man. He was proclaiming that He was here, anointed by God, to provide the mercy of the Jubilee:
- Cancellation of Debt, the relief of the stain of Original Sin.
- Freedom from Slavery, forgiveness of sin…Go and sin no more.
- Restoration of Ancestral land, the bridging of the chasm between man and God so that Heaven, which had been closed to man, was reopened.
All these actions show God’s Mercy to man.
Now, let us consider our own, current Jubilee Year of Mercy. How will we realize the outpouring of Mercy from God to us? How will we show Mercy to our fellow Man?