“If the Jubilee does not come out of your pockets, it’s not a true Jubilee. You understand?”
Pope Francis said this during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square this morning, his last before taking off Friday on his Apostolic Journey to Mexico, Feb. 12-18, stressing that a call to loosen the purse strings to help the needy is throughout the Bible, not something the Pope has “invented.”
The Jubilee, the Pontiff highlighted, is — “as salvation throughout history teaches us” — a time for us to open our hearts, really be His children, and help our struggling brothers and sisters.
Jubilee roots: ‘general amnesty’
Right away, the Holy Father recalled that today is Ash Wednesday and wished those gathered a good Lenten journey, and noted that today we recall the ancient institution of the jubilee, that appears in Sacred Scripture in the Book of Leviticus.
A jubilee, the Jesuit Pontiff explained, was a time of pardon, “kind of a ‘general amnesty,'” which allowed everyone to get back into their original situation.
With the idea that land belongs to God and is entrusted to man, Francis said, over history, this concept required and propelled the faithful to combat poverty and inequality. This is why the jubilee often meant debts cancelled, land restituted, and God’s people able to enjoy their freedom again.
Today, Francis stressed, we must ask ourselves what we have and what we can give to those who have nothing. “Ten percent, fifty percent,” he said, adding, “Let the Holy Spirit inspire each of you.”
“If I’m not mistaken,” the Pope went on to say, “More or less, I’m not certain about the figures, but about 80% of humanity’s wealth is in the hands of less than 20% of the population.”
How many fruits, the Pope exclaimed, are born from donating to those in need.
God rewards you ‘twice as much’
The Pope recalled how the Bible always tells us to help others in need, without making petty calculations or demanding impossible interest from them.
The Holy Father condemned how much families suffer due to being exploited by usury, which he called a grave sin, and decried how people become desperate.
“And many times, in desperation, many men end in suicide because they do not have hope and no one has their hand outstretched to help them,” Francis said, noting, “The only hand there is, is that which is there to make him pay interest.”
Reminding that the Lord promises to bless those who open their hands and are generous, he noted, that God “will give you twice as much back, maybe not in money but in other things.”
The Holy Father concluded, stressing that this sharing is mercy, and that if we expect God’s mercy toward us, we better set a good example.
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