Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2000
Jubilee offers 'a fresh start'
Collins, Huculak offer introduction to Church teaching on jubilee
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Like the Sabbath, the jubilee is a "marker moment," a time when we pause to think about the things that matter before starting again, says Archbishop Thomas Collins.
"It's like turning a new page; it's a fresh start."
Collins and Ukrainian Bishop Lawrence Huculak gave separate talks about the meaning of jubilee Jan. 21-22 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
Their talks were sponsored by the youth commissions of the Edmonton Archdiocese and the Ukrainian Eparchy. About 30 people attended.
Rooted in the Old Testament, "Jubilee is a tradition that in the 50th year there would be a time where debts were forgiven, the poor were helped and all the fields were returned back to nature."
"It was like going back to square one," Collins said. "I think we all recognize the nature of that because as we live our lives we become burdened down with all kinds of baggage and at a certain point we feel the need to start fresh and we have many opportunities for doing that in our lives."
In the Old Testament, one great opportunity for a fresh start was the jubilee. Whether the principles of the jubilee were actually implemented is unclear, "but the idea was there of a fresh start," the archbishop said.
That's picked up in Isaiah 61, and again in Luke 4:16-19.
The first passage that our Lord read when he had a chance to preach, when he came into the synagogue, was Isaiah 61, which speaks of the spirit of jubilee. And it speaks of the idea of a fresh start, of new beginnings.
"And that's what jubilee is; it's a time to bring fresh life to those who are without it, to bring freedom to those who are burdened," Collins said.
"That's why our Lord picked the passage from Isaiah referring to the theology and the spirit of jubilee. Because, notice, wherever the Lord goes he breaks the chains of slaves, he brings life to the dead, healing to those who are sick or wounded."
In the Old Testament, the jubilee is a "festival of time" and that makes sense because "time is the fabric of our lives," the archbishop said. "Every 50 years we take time out. It's a time to stop and get ready again."
The initiative for the first holy year, was taken not by the pope but by the Christian lower classes. As early as January 1300, large crowds of pilgrims flocked towards Rome.
Responding to the desire of the crowd, Pope Boniface VIII promulgated the first Christian jubilee on Feb. 22, 1300 (retroactive to the beginning of the year). The holy year lasted from Christmas 1299 to Christmas 1300.
From the 14th century on, jubilees punctuated the history of the Church. They might be seen as a way of sanctifying time. The intervals between jubilees varied at first and then became fixed little by little, but never definitively.
Besides the ordinary jubilees, one can count 85 extraordinary jubilees, of which 65 were universal, the others being a response to the particular circumstances of a country.
The Holy Father declared 1983 a jubilee year to mark the 1,950th anniversary of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The Great Jubilee of 2000 began on Christmas Eve 1999 and will end Jan. 6, 2001 on the feast of the Epiphany. It was symbolically marked by the opening of the Holy Door, which Collins described as "a marker moment where we stop before the Lord to reflect about what we are entering into."
Huculak described jubilee as a time of renewal rooted in Church history, noting the symbolism of the Holy Door ties well with our symbolism of Jesus as a doorway to God.
He said Jesus declared himself a door to the Father when he said, "I am the door. No one can come to the Father without passing through me."
This means Jesus is the only way to communion with God, Huculak said.
The bishop also spoke about pilgrimages and shrines as symbols of jubilee, saying the Church is on a constant pilgrimage. He invited the audience to take trips to mark the Great Jubilee. "This is a great opportunity to take trips," he said.
Huculak noted Eastern churches have not come up with major ways to celebrate the jubilee year as has the Roman Catholic Church. That's partly because they are "so much smaller and ill equipped," have slightly different ritual traditions and follow a different calendar - Eastern Catholics celebrate Christmas Jan. 7.
But the bishop said the Edmonton Eparchy will begin celebrating the jubilee year on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25.
"We are planning to use that as our eparchial time to begin a celebration of spiritual renewal for the jubilee year," he announced.