Jubilee is the antithesis to Capitalism. Jubilee is only possible in a gift economy. Jubilee is only possible among a people who have repented of their idolatry, who have denounced their allegiance to Mammon, and turned towards one another, viewing image bearers as being worth more than our possessions. Jubilee is only possible in a community that sees a God who made the world, loved the world, and on the seventh day delighted in the world, a creator among beloved creatures. Jubilee is only possible in a community that sees the labourer as an image bearer. Jubilee affirms the value of each human being regardless of their ability or efficiency, or productivity.
Mammon says that your value to society is dependent on your ability to serve the economy. In Mammon’s economy, disabled, queer, immigrant people are treated as burdens on society, and the able-bodied citizen is the most valuable. The able bodied father who works 50 hours a week at a job he hates, that is destroying his own body and destroying the world is a hero and his wife who is at home ensuring he is free to serve Mammon and not be distracted by things like laundry, meal planning and diapers is a virtuous wife. The son inherits the business. Sabbath stops mattering then because we can’t actually rest – we can only check out because we are bored or comfortably numb or we find work so degrading and meaningless to ourselves and to others that we can’t wait to be done with it. Sabbath rest isn’t possible in Mammon’s world or Pharoah’s world or Ceasar’s world or Jeff Bezos' world. Sabbath rest comes from a place of delight, of loving what God loves. Mammon creates death-dealing gender roles and hierarchies and everything comes down to how hard you can work, how much capital you can generate, and how successfully you can protect and defend your assets and the assets of your employer and your nation. Countless men have died fighting Mammon’s wars. Countless women have gone numb under the tyranny of Mammon’s womanhood. Everybody else is othered and then either murdered or swept under the rug. But Jubilee – Jubilee spins the wheel the other direction and releases us from Mammon’s grip – brings us towards one another.
St Ambrose of Milan once criticized Christians for their charity work saying, “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor, you are handing over to him what is his.” (340-397).