Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, to a reflection on the biblical meaning of the Jubilee. Francis explained that every fifty years, on the Day of Atonement, a great event of liberation was announced. It consisted of a type of "general amnesty", in which all debts were cancelled and the land was restored to its owners. The central idea is that the earth belongs to God and has been entrusted to men as administrators. The Pope added that the biblical jubilee was a true jubilee of mercy which had the function of helping the people to experience genuine fraternity by sincerely pursuing, by means of mutual assistance, the good of their brother in need. Likewise he mentioned other rules and customs, such as the payment of the tithe, or one-tenth of their harvest, or the sharing of the first part of the harvest, and the prohibition of loads with disproportionate rates of interest, all intended to help the poor, the orphans and widows. Francis emphasised that the message of the biblical jubilee invites us to construct a land and a society based on solidarity, sharing and the just distribution of resources.
He stressed that if the Jubilee does not "reach our pockets" then it is not a true jubilee, and that this, "is in the Bible, it wasn't invented by the Pope". "We are all guests of the Lord, awaiting the celestial homeland, called upon to make the world that welcomes us inhabitable and human. And how much of the harvest the more fortunate could give to those who are in need! Not only the fruits of the fields, but also any other produce of work: salaries, savings, the many things we possess and which are often wasted. It also happens today".
"Thinking of this, the Holy Scripture insistently exhorts us to respond generously to requests for loans, without mean calculations and without demanding unreasonable rates of interest. … This teaching remains current. How many situations of usury do we see, and how much suffering and anguish among families? Very often, in desperation, men even arrive at the point of suicide because they can no longer cope; they are without hope and no-one extends a hand to help them, only a hand to demand they pay interest. Usury is a grave sin. … But the Lord promised His blessing to those who extend their hand to give generously. He will redouble the repayment, perhaps not in money but with other things; it will always be redoubled". Francis concluded by reiterating that "if we wish to receive God's mercy, we must start by being merciful ourselves, starting with our co-citizens, among families, peoples, continents. Contributing to creating an earth without poverty means building societies without discrimination, based on the solidarity that leads us to share what we possess, in a division of resources based on brotherhood and justice".