Dear Brothers and Sisters: We learn from Scripture that the Jubilee Year is an ancient institution: a heightened moment of religious and social life for the people of Israel, who are instructed by God in the Book of Leviticus, for the jubilee year, to cancel debts and release slaves. A jubilee is a year of “general pardon”, for all people to return to their original state: the freedom proper to the holy people of God. We should practise this pardon to combat poverty and inequality, by promoting an equitable distribution of the earth’s goods for all. The earth belongs to God, and has been entrusted to us, who are but “strangers and sojourners” on the road to eternity. As stewards of the Lord, we are called to render habitable and human the world we have received. In this jubilee year, we are also challenged by the ancient prescription of tithing, offering God the first fruits of our work. This wisdom calls us to be generous with those in need, to help eliminate poverty, and contribute to a society based on solidarity, fraternity and justice.

It is beautiful and also significant to have this hearing at this Ash Wednesday. We begin the journey of Lent, and we are reflecting today on the ancient institution of the “jubilee”; It is an ancient thing, attested in Holy Scripture. We find it especially in the Book of Leviticus, which presents it as a culminating moment of religious and social life of the people of Israel.
Every 50 years, “the day of atonement” ( Lev 25.9), when the mercy of God was invoked on all the people, the sound of the horn announcing a great event of liberation. We read in the book of Leviticus: “You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a jubilee for you; each of you shall return to his property and to his family […] In this Year of Jubilee each will return to his property “(25,10.13). According to these provisions, if anyone had been forced to sell his land or his home, in the jubilee could repossess; and if anyone had contracted debts and unable to pay them, he had been forced to put themselves at the service of the creditor, could go back free to his family and get back all the properties.

It was a kind of “general amnesty”, which will allow everyone to get back in the original situation, with the cancellation of all debts, the restitution of the land, and the ability to enjoy their new freedom of the members of God’s people. a people “holy”, where requirements such as the jubilee needed to combat poverty and inequality, ensuring a decent life for all and a fair distribution of land on which to live and from which to draw sustenance. The central idea is that the land originally belongs to God and is entrusted to men (see January from 1.28 to 29), and therefore no one can arrogarsene exclusive possession, creating situations of inequality. Thus, today, we can think and rethink; each one in his heart think it has too many things. But why not let those who have nothing? Ten percent, fifty percent … I say, let the Holy Spirit will inspire each of you.

With the Jubilee, who had become poor returned to having the necessities of life, and who had become rich gave back to the poor what he had taken from him. The end was a society based on equality and solidarity, where freedom, land and money ridiventassero good for everyone, not just for some, as happens now, if I’m not mistaken … More or less, the figures are not safe but eighty percent of humanity’s wealth is in the hands of less than twenty percent of the population. It is a jubilee – and I say this remembering our history of salvation – to convert, because our heart becomes larger, more generous, more child of God, with more love. I tell you one thing: if this desire, if the jubilee does not come to the pockets, is not a true jubilee. You have understood? And this is in the Bible! Not invent this Pope is in the Bible. The end – as I said – it was a society based on equality and solidarity, where freedom, land and money to become an asset for everyone and not for some. In fact the jubilee function was to help the people to live a real fraternity, made of mutual aid. We can say that the biblical jubilee was a “Jubilee of mercy”, because experienced in the sincere search for the good of the poor brother.

In the same line, even other institutions and other laws governed the life of God’s people, because you might experience the mercy of the Lord through that of men. In those norms are indications as valid today, that make you think. For example, the biblical law prescribed the payment of “tithes” that were intended for the Levites, in charge of the cult, who were landless and the poor, orphans and widows (cf. Dt 14.22 to 29). It was expected that the tenth part of the harvest, or the proceeds of other activities, might be given to those who were unprotected and in need, as well as to foster conditions of relative equality in a nation in which everyone had to behave brothers.

There was also the law concerning the “first fruits”. What is this? The first part of the harvest, the most valuable part, was to be shared with the Levites and the foreigners (cf. Dt 18.4 to 5; 26.1 to 11), who did not own fields, so that for them the earth was the source of nourishment and life. “The land is mine and you are but aliens and from guests,” says the Lord ( Leviticus 25:23). We are all guests of the Lord, waiting for the heavenly homeland (cf. Heb 11.13 to 16; 1 Peter 2:11), called to make the world that welcomes us a living and human. And how many “first fruits” who is more fortunate could donate to those in need! How many fruits! First fruits of not only the fruits of the fields, but any other product of labor, wages, savings, so many things that you own and that sometimes are wasted. This also happens today. Apostolic Nell’Elemosineria many letters arrive with a bit ‘of money: “This is a part of my salary to help others.” And this is nice; help others, charitable institutions, hospitals, retirement homes …; give also to strangers, those who are strangers and are in transit. Jesus was passing through Egypt.

And just thinking about this, the Holy Scriptures insistently exhort respond generously to requests for loans, without petty calculations and without demanding impossible interests:

“If your brother is with you becomes poor and without resources, help as a stranger and a guest, he may live with thee. Do not take interest from him, or increase; but fear your God and is’ live your brother with you. You not lend him money at interest, nor give him your food for wear “( Lv 25.35 to 37). This teaching is always relevant. How many families are on the road, victims of usury! Please, please, because in this Jubilee the Lord remove from the heart of all of us this desire to have more, wear. That you return to be generous, big. How many wear situations we are forced to see and how much suffering and anguish bring to families! And many times, in desperation, many men end in suicide because they do not make it and do not have hope, do not have the outstretched hand to help them; only the hand that is to make him pay interest. It is a grave sin of usury, is a crying sin before God. But the Lord has promised his blessing to those who opens her hand to give generously (cf. Dt 15:10). He will give you double, maybe not in money but in other things, but the Lord will always give you double.

Dear brothers and sisters, the biblical message is very clear: open up courageously sharing, and this is mercy! And if we want mercy from God we begin to make us. It is this: we begin to make us among fellow citizens, between families, between peoples, between continents. Help realize a land without poor means building society without discrimination based on solidarity that leads to share what you have, in a sharing of resources founded on brotherhood and justice. Thank you.