Letter of January 1st 1999 from Jacques Gaillot
|Let us be subverted for the Jubilee||Past letters:|
Let us be subverted for the Jubilee
The coming so close of Year 2000 attracts our imagination, as the coming of a new star in the sky. Are we going to leave an old world for a new one?
The end of a century, more so the end of a millennium, give us the opportunity to dream about a better world and to enter into it without being scared. To cross together the threshold of a new millennium adds some magic to the symbolic time.
However the third millennium did not wait for the calendar to burst into our present time. Events, such as the fall of the Berlin wall, have shifted Humanity to a new world. We have entered into an area of irreversible changes with profound mutations without yet mastering the future. Every thing is moving fast.
Discoveries in Genetics open up extraordinary possibilities. The computing revolution explodes our way of communicating. The context of world globalisation forces the birth of an authentic International Court. But on the planet, inequality become deeper and flagrant injustice still prevail.
In this harsh context for many, can we believe in the possibility of another world? Will the Jubilee prepared by the Churches strike us for their subversion?
Will it lead to a revolt against injustice? Will there be surprising adventurous actions for a liberated future? According to the ancient Jewish tradition, every fifty years, it was proclaimed relief from debts and freedom for slaves.
Not any more reason to exploit the poor and persecute the foreigner; time was for social justice and every body had to recover his rights. Society was trying to restart from scratch. It was an utopia needed by the people. The year of the Jubilee was bringing a year of freedom. Lower class people were the first to benefit from it. Without them, the Jubilee would have had no meaning.
The young prophet of Nazareth has completely renewed the practice of the Jubilee. He was sent "to announce the good news to the poor, freedom to the prisoners, light to the blind, liberty for those who are oppressed and to proclaim a year of mercy form the Lord" Luke 4, 18-19.
What a subversive action! Jesus has not only spoken; he acted. He has not only joined the poor: he died for that. Then the poor raised up full of hope. A new world became reachable.
What a difference today! When I speak about the Jubilee to young ones unemployed or without a work permit, they pout: what for? Certainly not for us.
As always those who already have will benefit from it! Seeing Society through the eyes of the lower class people brings an unusual sight. Learning from those having a hard time, what they are waiting for and cry for, gives another approach about what is going on. The Jubilee will be a feast for every one if it is first a feast for those who have no rights.
They are very sensitive to any hint of freedom wherever it comes from: the lowering of unemployment is a sign of hope, a proposal for peace in the Basques country, the move back of Israeli military forces from a part of Cisjordany, the revolt for land of peasants in Brazil, the resistance of Chiapas Indian, the canceling of the debt for Central American countries by France...
They cheer when Justice is not only for powerful people or for the sake of the State. So they welcome Spanish judge Garzon when he prosecutes General Pinochet and more so the British Lords when they took their historical ruling about him.
They support the mayor of the small French city Limeil-Brevannes, Joseph Rossignol, who makes welcome at the Town Hall those who fight for work permits by means of hunger strike. They are in favour of civil contract between two persons (PACS) because it goes toward the recognition of rights. They feel relief when the French National Front party is outlawed by the Republic.
The Jubilee of Year 2000 has been officially proclaimed by Pope John-Paul II. Catholic Church is called up to celebrate this event with the risk to seize it all for itself. The Jubilee will give occasions of great and expensive festivities for which the Catholic Church has the secret. But exceptional gatherings and numerous pilgrimages will they be enough to make the Jubilee a good news for those who are excluded from our Society?
One murmurs about the rehabilitation of Savonarol, the Dominican monk, burned alive five hundred year ago in Florence. Even one may dream of canceling Luther's excommunication. What a daring! But if it happens, it would be about past actions. People will not be interested, it is what is going on today which counts.
The Church repents, again and again. Conferences are organized to understand how and why Holy Inquisition has been created. But at the same time, people who do not follow the official and unique way of thinking, who are not dogmatically correct, are dismissed. If the young Prophet of Nazareth was coming back, what would He be doing? What would He be saying? But we are taught that His path always crosses our human one...
Then what is left for us to do? What if, like children, we ask those foreigners without working permit who occupy our churches? Sure they are looking for a refuge, a protection in a symbolic place. However is there not any more? Don't they secretly feel that the Church has a great message of liberation for mankind? If they knock so steadily at our old Institution door, isn't it to remember that the Church cannot be herself without them? Curiously these people coming from elsewhere, deliver the Church from her fears and put her back to her own mission. Welcoming the foreigner, the Church can widely open up to drop out Christians, Christians who were put aside or totally excluded from the institution or even from Holy Communion . The Church will come back to what she should always have been: the Church caring for the excluded people, not the Church who turns away from them. We are finding again the subversive action of the man from Nazareth, the humanity of Christ.
If another world is possible, another Church will come up. The two are
linked. Let us be subverted for the Jubilee. Let do it. And we will take
part to the feast.