Pope Francis has declared 2025 to be a Jubilee Year, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’ and this year, 2024, is to be a Year of Prayer in preparation. To mark this, I write below a Letter to Clergy and Laity about what the Jubilee Year is. I also ask everyone this Year to reflect on the ‘Our Father’ and the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.
As we embark on the new year 2024, the Holy Father has invited us to prepare for the Jubilee Year of 2025, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. In his letter promoting the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis recalls the suffering and hardships that many of us experienced during the pandemic. In a time where many countries also suffer the effects of war and the climate crisis, Pope Francis sees the Jubilee Year 2025 as an opportunity to restore hope, a time of renewal and rebirth. The Jubilee Year will begin on 24th December 2024, with the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica and will draw to a close on the feast of Epiphany, January 2026.
In preparation for the Jubilee Year, the Pope has proclaimed this year 2024 to be a year of prayer in preparation. It will focus on that prayer given to the disciples, the ‘Our Father.’ The Our Father not only reminds us that God is our Father but also reminds us of the union we share as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The word jubilee derives from the Hebrew, ‘Jobel’, which means ‘a ram’s horn.’ The instrument would be blown indicating the start of the year. In the Old Testament, for the Israelites, the jubilee was a time of universal pardon. In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord says, “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.” The year was seen as a time to re-establish relationship with God, with each other, and creation. This would see misappropriated land returned to their owners, debts forgiven, Hebrew slaves set free, and a fallow period for the land to recover. In the New Testament, on the Sabbath day in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads the Jubilee prophecy (see Luke 4:16-21) from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2) and proclaims that it would be fulfilled through him, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” The true jubilee is Jesus Christ himself. While in the jubilee of old slaves were set free from bondage and united with their families and homeland, in Jesus, we are freed from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus unites us to our true family, the family of God (the Church), and to our true homeland, heaven.
Read the letter here.