Jubilee

At The Jesus Manifesto:

Whenever I talk about Jubilee, people push back. Especially if they have money. The modern USAmerican understanding of justice is quite different than the justice of Jesus. Nowhere can we find in his Jubilee vision that a wealthy person needs only to give alms to be justified, since wealth comes from the Land, and the Land, which ultimately belongs to God, is granted to His people. In light of this, the call of the wealthy isn’t simply to be charitable. Charity doesn’t get at justice. Even when Jubilee ceases to be rooted in the promised land, it is still assumed that, in Christ, everything belongs to the Lord and should, therefore, be redistributed to those in need as an act of justice–not as an act of “charity.”

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Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t think Jesus, who gave us the 8th & 10th commandments, and via St Paul stated that those who won’t work don’t get to eat, had a socialistic redistribution/class warfare/entitlement scheme in mind when he declared the laws regarding Jubilee. The land redistributed was lost by the proper owners due to indebtedness; ie the land God appointed them to have was to be returned to them, rather to “the people” or any other euphemism for the humanistic state. Reutrning that which was lost by or taken from rightful owners is justice; those who have willingly giving to those who truly need is charity; coercive taxation and redistribution is theft; deciding who is rich and who is entitled to what is covetousness and greed.

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    • Sounds like you might be reading more into the article than is there. I don’t see anything about compulsion or taxation there; the point is that we as members of the Church and as wealthy people owe our brothers and sisters in Christ more than just charity.

      Everybody gives and sacrifices as he freely chooses. But the bar is set high: Christ, being God by nature, didn’t count that estate worth clinging to but made Himself of no account and became not only a human, but a servant. He impoverished Himself out of love, not out of obligation or compulsion, and offers us the opportunity to participate in that life.

      The author’s point about jubilee is that we can not merely cancel debts and free slaves every seven years, as Israel was commanded; we can at all times unite the poor to ourselves in the brotherhood of Christ. We can become free from the dehumanizing, alienating effects of acquisitiveness. We have the opportunity and calling to put our entire livelihood at Christ’s disposal.

      Personally I’m trying to take my focus off the political ideologies that reduce people to masses and categories, or obsess about rights and theories – and instead focus on the individuals I meet in my neighborhood, in parking lots and parks and volunteer work. Individuals with names and faces – those are folks I can look in the eye, serve and try to lay down my life for them, and “Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke.” Take passages like that out of the real of pretty spiritual language and match actions to our claims, and then God says, “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58)

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