— Pictured above –
The Very Rev. Dr. Jeffrey D. Gibson as he delivered the Sermon.
In the Cathedral Church of St. Michael & All Angels at The Annual Service to
Mark the Opening of the Legal Year, 2016-
“And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty
throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 25:10) I invite you to reflect
with me on the theme of this service – “Celebrating A Golden Jubilee – A Call to
Justice and Reconciliation”. Our Nation prepares to celebrate 50 years of Independence
Debts were forgiven;
Land which had been leased out, perhaps to maximize the family income, was restored to the family in perpetuity; and,
The mercies of God would be realized.
Altogether, the Jubilee principle was one aspect of the Israelite ‘economic safety
net’; others being the Sabbath-
It arose in the context of agrarian society and one in which the character of God was sovereign. The basic premise of Jubilee is that God is the true owner of the land which had been entrusted to a specific people. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23)
There is no such comparison today and even if one would argue that the Church has a prophetic voice in that regard, it can only exert moral suasion on the civil authorities of the day. Yet, by its very nature, the Jubilee anticipated human weakness and in the circumstances there had to be a contingency plan; one in which the virtue of forgiveness would play an integral role, the value of the dignity of human life would be affirmed, and the vision of an egalitarian society be renewed.
Three “Vs”: Virtue – Value – and Vision; served to shape the next fifty years in their national life. Today, I believe that being aware of the limitations of the concept which have been acknowledged, it may be considered as a foundation for social justice today. The virtue which is particularly related to the Jubilee is – Forgiveness. It may be described as an extraordinary act by which an offended person makes everything right between that person and the offender. Christian forgiveness is first about how God restores human beings in their relationship with the Divine, and then about how persons in community restore relationships which each other when one has been hurt by another. There has been a tendency to view forgiveness primarily in personal terms – one to one; however, there is a social dimension to forgiveness. When an individual offends the society by committed a crime, there is a need for healing and forgiveness may set the stage for such healing to take place, after appropriate sorrow for the offence has been established.
The encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, recorded in the Gospel of
Crime is essentially a sign of a broken relationship in the society. While one would affirm that ‘the punishment must match the crime’ one gets the impression that there are times when the society is not fully satisfied no matter the punishment is. There is a deep sense of loss, anger and grief. Perhaps, there is need for a process whereby the society can participate in the healing process – where victims can be relieved of their pain and offenders brought to the point where there is acknowledgement of guilt, an expression of sorrow and a commitment to rehabilitation. Towards that end, I would venture to suggest that the process of forgiveness has a place in the healing of community.
Hopefully, during the next fifty years there will be the emergence of more
The evidence of this made be seen in:
Family breakdown, and
A culture of violence.
There is a need to stem the tide of any further erosion of community. This would require a collaborative effort since community building is an economic, political and spiritual process.
Law and order agencies, faith communities, educational and social institutions
and government and non-
An identifiable virtue and an underlying value should contribute to the fashioning of a moral vision – the right and the fitting for a Barbados of 2066. A clearly defined vision would help us as a people to encompass, inform and organize for the type of society we want. It would not happen by chance. That “basic script” would help us to discover the moral obligations which persons owe one another in mutual responsibility, in order to live together in harmony and integrity, such as telling the truth and keeping one's word; or those imperatives of a biblical moral vision such as loving and forgiving the neighbour, also the enemies.
In conclusion, we are called to live in community with each other. It is a case of being better together; those who have can make a difference in the lives of those who don’t have enough.
I pray for a spirit of discernment as we approach our 50 th Year of Independence.
Bridgetown, Barbados -
Cathedral Church of St. Michael & All Angels at The Annual Service to Mark the Opening
of the Legal Year, 2016-
Chief Justice of Barbados Sir Marston Gibson as he inspected the Guard of
Honor in front of the Supreme Court complex soon after the Church Service to Mark
the Opening of the Legal Year, 2016-
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite ( second from left ) in conversation with
Singing during the service is the Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite ( second
from right in the front row ) the Governor-
Detachment of the Royay Barbados Police Force and the Police Band in front of the Supreme Court for the Guard Of Honor.
Six Trumpeters of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band blowing to signal
the Opening of the Legal Year, 2016-