given by Rachel Meyer at chapter meeting, August 2017
After the devil had finished every temptation, Jesus returned to Nazareth and went into the temple on the Sabbath. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah:
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.
Rolling up the scroll, He said to them, “today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that the Jubilee Year has arrived. In the writing of Isaiah, the Jubilee was no longer an instruction for the buying and selling of property, but an image of the perfect justice of the Kingdom of God.
The very rules laid down sound idyllic, and they are – they were most likely never practiced to any serious degree. In essence, every fifty years, all land is to return to the family to which it properly belongs. It is impossible to sell land – land can only be leased, because God is the true landlord. In this view, no man really owns the land on which he lives and makes his living. God owns the entire kingdom. But by giving up the idea of true ownership, ceding it to God, a family really owns their land in a much more stable and profound way. Their ownership is indelible, even eternal. They can make use of the land as they will, even to loan it out for income, but at the end of the fifty years, it always comes back.
How much is this true of our own lives? If I truly owned myself, how quick would I be to sell myself out for profit, comfort, pleasure, glory, or for human love? Esau, in a moment of weakness, traded his inheritance for a pot of stew. Really, each of us would be tempted at some point to sell our eternal souls to the devil. Isn’t that what we do every time we commit mortal sin? I don’t really need to go to Mass this weekend. One soul, sold, for the price of an extra hour of sleep and two cups of coffee.
Fortunately, none of us belongs to himself, but truly to God. Even after we try to squander our inheritance for immediate gratification, there is always the year of Jubilee – a time to proclaim liberty to our self-imposed captivity and recovery of sight to our spiritual blindness. “Behold, now is an acceptable time.” Each time of conversion in our lives is its own year of jubilee. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
In a similar vein, how would we live our lives if we remembered that everything we have is not our own, to do with as we please, but on lease from God? I’m sure we’ve all heard the reflection many times, but that’s because it’s so hard for us to take it to heart! How would you go about your job if God Himself were your immediate supervisor? What would be on your computer screen if His holy face were looking over your shoulder? If His own brother came to stay with you, how would you treat him, knowing that he would go back and give a report?
Not long after I entered the Catholic Church, I read True Devotion to Mary (already following the great Dominicans!) and made the total consecration of myself to her as her loving slave.
I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions-----past, present and future-----leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.
After the consecration, I often thought, “Of course you can borrow my textbook – it’s not really mine, it’s Mary’s!” “Of course I will help you out. My time doesn’t belong to me anyway, it belongs to Jesus, through Mary.” Over the years I’ve lost some of the spirit of the devotion, but it was extremely fruitful in reminding me that everything that I have, I have received, and I have no right to any of it. This is the message of the proclamation of the Jubilee. God owns everything, we own nothing. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.