Written by: Raphael Ma
“O Lord, you have shown me my end,
how short is the length of my days.
Now I know how fleeting is my life”
For those of you who have spent any time trying to explain or defend the faith to simply curious or even downright adversarial people, you have probably thought to yourself: “Why can’t they just get it? It makes so much sense!” I think this happens because we do not only live our lives based on arguments. While reason is hopefully a major part of our day to day lives, there is a deeper and less easily expressed part of our lives, which is not talked about so much, I think, simply because it’s not easy to express it in words. For the sake of conversation I’ll call it intuition. I understand intuition to be the ability we have to come to a realization about, or “know” something and/or make choices without going through a formal reasoning process. It’s what separates us from machines.
There are only a few readings from the book of Leviticus in the year. The first reading from Saturday August 3rd of this year was about the Lord’s instruction to Moses for the people of Israel about the Jubilee year. The Jubilee year was every fiftieth year, when the whole land of Israel and all its inhabitants were “liberated”. This meant that everyone returned home to their original properties that were given them when they first arrived in the promised land, all slaves were set free, and no extra work was to be done on the land – even the land got to rest.
As a result, the Lord instructs Israel:
“In this year of jubilee, then, everyone one of you shall return to his own property. Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbour or buy any from him, do not deal unfairly. On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee shall you purchase the land from your neighbour; and so also on the basis of the number of years for crops, shall he sell it to you. When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more; when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less. For it is really the number of crops that he sells you. Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God. I the Lord, am your God”
Basically, what the Lord is saying is that – Hey Israel, you don’t really own the land. Even if you were to buy all the land you possibly could, every Jubilee year, the land will once again belong to the families I assigned it to. So in the end all you are really dealing with is what crops you can bring forth from the land.
The reality check of the Jubilee year applies to our lives as well. God says to us – Hey people, you don’t own your lives or your things. Even if you were to make use of all the actually useful nutritional and medical advances currently known to man, you will all die, and others will take possession of the things you have accumulated. So all you really have in the end is what fruit you have borne in your lives. Even with today’s average life expectancy in Canada of 79 for men and 83 for women. It’s still not a very long time. Most of us will not live to see two Jubilee years. If a good tree is distinguished from a bad tree by its fruit rather than the land it happens to be growing on, and all we can do in this life is bear fruit, it’s something we should examine ourselves on – what fruit have I borne for God? What fruit am I bearing for God? What fruit can I still bear for God with the time I have left in this life, and what am I doing about it?Catholic Living, by Catholic Chapter House.