"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: A God of Communion and His Call to Greater Communion (DAY 13)

The Guardian Angel by Domenico Fetti

Today is Day 13 of our 30-day whole community retreat journey in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure: "Mirror Neurons" (Richard Rohr, On The Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men; Loyola Press 2010)

What our world in crisis needs more than ever is empathy. We have heard from San Bernardino what is the difference between thinking and feeling. Empathy is suffering through your feelings, through your body and gut. However this is a grace that we need to ask God to cultivate in us anew. Richard Rohr uses this image of "mirror neurons" (nerve cells) that each one of us has. I quote, "If a child receives loving mirroring from mother and father, the child develops more "mirror neurons" in brain and body and can more easily empathize with others." Rohr recommends the daily practice of looking at Jesus on the cross and perhaps we can still develop some mirror neurons later in life. He quotes Zechariah 12:10, "When they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn."

I reflected and asked, "Does God have mirror neurons?" He must first be a human being to physically and genetically have it which, to be fair, He did.  During Jesus' growing up years–hidden for the most part–he cultivated with his family's help how to become Divine Mercy and become truly one with us as our Emmanuel–God with us.

Today we continue the retreat on Jesus' early life which was spent in communion with his own small family. Jesus, the "light of the world," was raised through the empathy of Joseph and Mary. Novelist Edith Wharton talks of the two ways of spreading light. First by being the candle or, second, by being the mirror that reflects it. Through our "mirror neurons" may we reflect the light of Christ to others undergoing deep pain and brokenness due to the pandemic. But the mirror neurons are good in so far as (remember the meaning of Tantum Quantum) we are brought into greater communion as one family of God.

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire... to feel the Father's Divine Mercy towards humanity and to feel in the depths of my heart this mercy that became human through Jesus Christ.

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)
  1. Isaiah 7:10–14; 8:10 (The same first reading as last March 25 Solemnity of the Annunciation)
  2. Colossians 3:12–21 (“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.Word of caution in reading this part of the text–think along the line that husbands are entrusted with a martyr-like role in the family. They ought to follow Christ's example as head of the whole flock and did this even to the point of death.)
Questions and Considerations To Ponder: Below is a listing of the Church's set of spiritual and corporal works of mercy–seven for each set. What small and realistic ways are you being called by God to respond in the coming more days of the lockdown? Within your family? Community?

Seven Corporal Works of Mercy:
1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty.
3. Clothe the naked.
4. Visit the imprisoned.
5. Shelter the homeless.
7. Bury the dead.

8th As you may know already there is an 8th work which Pope Francis included. It is both corporal and spiritual. Look for ways that you can show kindness to sister or mother earth.

Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy:
1. Correct those who need it.
3. Give counsel to those who need it.
4. Comfort the sorrowful.
5. Suffer wrongs patiently.
6. Forgive all injuries.
7. Pray for the living and the dead.

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIPusing 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Isaiah 7:10–14; 8:10

Behold, the virgin shall conceive.

The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!”

Commentary (Credits: universalis.com)

The prophecy in this first reading was given in 736 BC, when King Ahaz of Judah was about to be forced into an alliance, in a vain attempt to oppose the crushing military power of Babylon. Isaiah goes to him and warns him that the alliance would be fatal: he had better trust in the Lord. Isaiah promises a sign, which Ahaz refuses. He does not want to be convinced! What is this sign? The original Hebrew reads, ‘A girl is with child and will bear a son’. Mary did not know the Greek translation, ‘the virgin is with child’, but she knew the prophecies of the Messiah who would save Israel, and she must have recognized that she was being asked to undertake the mother hood of this child. A daunting challenge, to change her life and bring her to the heart of God! On her the future of her people would depend, and perhaps circles wider yet. The end of her carefree childhood, her own plans for marriage and family, dedicated entirely to the God she served. We cannot know how much she realized, but she must have heard the prophecies from the Sabbath readings of the Prophets, and known that a daunting task was offered to her.

Colossians 3:12–21

Family life in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.

Commentary (Credits: universalis.com)

In an incredibly short space the Letter to the Colossians gives a whole series of instructions on living in community: compassion, forgiveness, love and peace – not to mention gratitude. Love is a sort of overcoat, holding all the other qualities together. If we reflect on these and put them into practice there can be no rivalry or hostility in the Christian community – even within a family, where the strains of Christmas often make love grow thin. However, a loving family is the model for the different relationships of a loving Christian community. God’s fatherhood and motherhood is the model for human parentage, and Christ’s devotion to his body the Church is the model for the devotion of spouses to one another. The reading begins with an inspiring reminder that we form the chosen people of God; God’s choice leaves us little alternative to the attempt to behave as God’s people. The paragraph ends with the counsel to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus; Christians are those over whom the name of the Lord Jesus has been called, making us members of his company and putting us under his power. This is the challenge really to act as God’s people.