By Fr. Gerald Curry, SFM
The celebration of the Jubilee year has ended, the Jubilee Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica have been closed, to be opened again in the distant 2050. We are told that 2001, rather than the year 2000, marks the actual beginning of the third millennium.
For the past three years Scarboro Missions has celebrated the Jubilee, presenting the themes, Release from Bondage, Redistribution of Wealth, and Renewal of the Earth.
For me, the words of Pope John Paul II are most significant: “The Jubilee, ‘a year of the Lord’s favour,’ characterizes all the activity of Jesus; it is not merely the recurrence of an anniversary in time.”
This issue presents the work of Scarboro missionaries in Ecuador where we first went in 1993. Ecuador is a very poor country, and the Diocese of Riobamba, where we are present, is the poorest region of the country. Life for the people has gone from bad to worse. It is one example, and there are many, where the economy has really gone wrong, leaving millions of people without the basic necessities of life, robbing them of lives befitting their dignity as human beings.
It is helpful to look at the Greek roots of the word economics: OIKOS, meaning home (also at the root of the words ecology and ecumenism); and NOMOS, meaning the management or care of. Therefore, this word, economics, can be translated as the care of the home.
Even in First World countries like Canada, some aspects of economics, ‘care of the home,’ can go wrong. For example, statistics tell us that 1.4 million Canadian children live below the poverty level and, despite our wealth, Canada does not have a national child care program.
WHAT A PRIVILEGE, TO BE PART OF LIVING JUBILEE, SERVING FREEDOM AND JUSTICE AND HOPE AMONG A PEOPLE CLAIMING THEIR DIGNITY AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD.
This past Christmas my homily was centred on the Christ Child, and one of the references I made to the state of children in our world today was the above. After Mass several couples approached and I was told quite proudly by a couple from Europe that their country, France, did indeed have a national child care program. A Canadian couple suggested that Canada have a guaranteed annual income; another couple from Calgary suggested the need for housing for low income families. All of this, for them, was sound ‘care of the home.’ Recent surveys suggest that most Canadians are willing to pay for these things through their taxes.
Jesus began his public ministry by quoting the prophet Isaiah’s reference to the Jubilee year: “The lame walk, the blind see, captives are freed, and good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
Proclaiming Jubilee is to live as Jesus did, “in all of his activity,” caring, sharing, forgiving, loving. It is a life dedicated to justice and truth.
In this issue we learn that the economy of Ecuador had fallen into the hands of thieves. Yet, against unimaginable odds, there are signs of Jubilee, of freedom, of hope.
As I helped prepare this issue, I reflected on the great struggle in which our missionaries and their colleagues are involved. What hardship, yet at the same time, what a privilege, to be part of living Jubilee, serving freedom and justice and hope among a people claiming their dignity as sons and daughters of God.
Upon further reflection, is this not the privilege of all Christians and of all people of good will... to live Jubilee wherever we are? Perhaps this is a good description of a person who is with Christ... one who lives Jubilee in word and deed.