So, What is a Jubilee, Anyway?
The following is an excerpt from the homily of Fr. Raymond Roden of the Diocese of Brooklyn, who is currently serving as Spiritual Director at the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, New York. Father Roden preached this beautiful homily at the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Marguerite who currently resides in Queens, New York. He offers such an insightful meditation on the meaning of a Jubilee that we had to share it with you! He clarifies the Biblical origins of “Jubilee”, and why a 50th Anniversary is such a special occasion. Enjoy!
“According to Leviticus (Lev. 25:10), every 50th year was to be a time when Hebrew slaves were set free, lands were given back to their former owners, and the fields were not harvested. This year of liberty was announced when a ram’s horn was blown. In Hebrew that ceremonial horn was called a YOBHEL (pr. yovel), and the celebratory year took its name from that of the horn. As the Bible was translated into other languages the concept of the YOBHEL spread around the world, as did its name, although with some spelling modifications. In Latin, YOBHEL was translated as IUBILAEUS—influenced by the Latin IUBILARE, meaning to let out joyful shouts. French speakers adopted the word as JUBILE (pr. Joo-Bee-Lay), and English speakers created JUBILEE from the French and Latin forms.
The jubilee year is a holy year. It is a loud proclamation of liberty. It is the multiplication of time into a thing of perfection, the eternal NOW. It’s not just a Jewish thing. It is filled with the promise of the coming of the Messiah as the fulfillment of the Divine Plan of Salvation and if you listen very carefully, you will hear whispered the Holy Name—JESUS— a whisper that echoes and invites and promises peace and joy, right up to this very moment.
…My sisters and brothers, “Jubilee” is not a final destination. The joyful shouts we let out at the 50 year mark have to do with memory. Gospel memory first of all. So many stories. Such rich wisdom. And Marian memory. Our Lady was very big on memory, wasn’t she? She remembered her Fiat; She remembered Emmanuel in her heart and in her body; She remembered the Redeemer’s growth and development before her very eyes. Teaching the Twelve on Holy Saturday and after the Ascension she remembered everything about her Son’s words and deeds. And how many times have we begged, “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary…”?
Eucharistic memory is ours, too, at every single Mass in every time and place, language and culture, and not just at the Mass we happen to be attending on any given day because the Holy Sacrifice begins every few minutes somewhere in the world. If we sometimes forget keys or dates or names or worse, not to worry. The mission of the Church is to remind us over and over again ever so gently yet ever so persistently about the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “Do this in memory of Me” guarantees that he will always be at our fingertips, on the tip of our tongue, indwelling in each of our hearts and in each of our communities. Memory of the words and ways and radical humility of Soeur Marie de la Croix, Saint Jeanne Jugan, is the heritage, the always fresh and cool never finishing fountain from which we drink especially during desert sojourns. Community life as established by the Foundress will always remind us that the Hail Mary will carry us to Heaven!
And countless other saints, that cloud of witnesses, will never let us forget their own view of the vision of Juliana of Norwich who lived in isolation during a pandemic that, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”. But memory is not nostalgia! Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, cautions us about getting lost in nostalgia. Jesus is here! Jesus is now! The Kingdom of Heaven, like a treasure buried in a field, like a merchant searching for fine pearls, is at once here and now and on the way. Ceaseless yearning for the “good old days” is a trick of the Evil One. The days of the Lord Jesus are the good old days and we are most assuredly in them. We inhabit neither a past that will never return, nor a future that hasn’t arrived. We live our faith, our vocation, our littleness in today’s world which is clearly starving to taste what we’ve been gifted with. We remember what Pope Francis told us: “Evangelization is done on one’s knees.” In this we are Spirit-driven, prayer-driven.”
Thank you, Father Roden, for helping us to deepen our understanding of our own special Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of our presence in Enfield! With a joyful shout that lasts for all of 2022, we will proclaim God’s marvelous deeds and His tender Providence towards those who trust in Him!