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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: "Abba, Father" (DAY 26)

Christ On The Cross
by Phillippe De Champaigne

Today is Day 26 of the whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure: Christ was suffering from a rare medical condition as Luke, who was a physician, described Jesus sweating great clots of blood. Hematidrosis, a.k.a. hematohidrosis and hemidrosis, is so rare that many people don't know it exists or if it's real. But sweating blood has been seen throughout history, e.g., aside from Jesus praying at the garden before the crucifixion, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about soldiers sweating blood before going for battle. Under extreme emotional stress blood vessels expand so much that they break where they come into contact with the sweat glands. The Bible tells that three times Jesus went back to His disciples only to find them asleep. Three times He went back to pray to the Father, Jesus' Abba, only to find Himself in agony. Despite his struggle in the garden and through the help of an angel, Jesus reached his final decision, to face his Passion and death on a cross. (A Walk With Christ To The Cross: A Discussion Manual by Dawson McAllister, Shepherd Productions Inc. 1980. p. 74).

Fr. Richard Rohr holds that Jesus has accomplished more by acceptance or by his Passion (from the Latin "pati" meaning, "to endure," "to accept") than by his action. There is a fascinating story in the 12th chapter of John, which some scholars see as an opportunity offered to Jesus to take action to avoid his Passion. John tells us that upon Jesus' entry into Jerusalem some Greeks who were attending the Passover feast paid a visit to Philip who presumably spoke Greek. "Sir," they said, "we want to see Jesus" (cf. Jn 12:21). What did they say to Philip? We do not know; John does not say. Perhaps they invited Jesus to move to Greece to escape the growing tensions in Jerusalem. This suppostion is deduced from Jesus' answer, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (cf. Jn 12:23-24) By these words, Jesus chose to accept what lay ahead and declined the offer of the well-meaning visitors from Greece. (He is my Brother The Bonding of a Priest and a Rabbi Over 25 Years: Fr. William Treacy and Rabbi Raphael Levine, pp. 99-100).

The Sacred Heart of Jesus: A Broken Heart
Descent From The Cross by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet

In Mark's Gospel, when Pilate learns that Jesus had already died, he was "amazed" at first that he needed a centurion to verify for him if Jesus had indeed died. We often speak of Jesus having died on the cross that when we see the cross we say that is what killed our Lord. But what if somebody tells you that what killed Jesus was not the physical crucifixion? How would you react?

Jesus was lucky he died at three o'clock in the afternoon after only three hours of hanging, nailed on his cross. Criminals often hung for a week, no sooner than forty-eight hours dying of hunger, shock, thirst, infection, exhaustion, asphyxia and exposure. To hasten death the victim’s legs are thrashed over the shin with a heavy mallet. Have you ever hit your shin while climbing the stairs? Can you imagine the pain of having broken shins? That was the last remaining part of the body of the crucified man that gives him support to some degree.

When the soldiers arrived at Golgotha, "they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead. [T]hey did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out" (Jn 19:33-34). "If the soldier’s spear was thrust into the left side of the Lord’s body and actually penetrated the heart, the outrush of ‘blood and water’ observed by John is further evidence of a cardiac rupture; for it is known that in the rare instances of death resulting from a breaking of any part of the wall of the heart, blood accumulates within the pericardium, and there undergoes a change by which the corpuscles separate as a partially clotted mass from the almost colorless, watery serum... Great mental stress, poignant emotion either of grief or joy, and intense spiritual struggle are among the recognized causes of heart rupture. In short, it appears that the actual cause of the Savior’s death was a broken heart, caused not by crucifixion but by the tremendous weight of sorrow and suffering He had endured..." (Adam Abrams, Gethsemane, © 2008 Adam Abrams.) I am reminded of a poignant quote from Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" that speaks too for our Lord, after all “...maybe it was better to break a man's leg than to break his heart.”

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire. To become aware that everything is grace and a direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs—everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness. Everything is grace because everything is God's gift. (St. Therese of Lisieux, "The Story of a Soul, An Autobiography.")

Word Of God: (See full text below)

1. Isaiah 52:13—53:12 (He himself was wounded for our sins.) Fourth oracle of the Servant of the Lord.
2. John 18:1—19:42 (The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.)

Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. "Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36)

W. E. Vine differentiates between "abba" and "pater" in this way: “‘Abba’ is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ [pater] expresses an intelligent apprehension [or understanding] of the relationship.” Simply put, pater is used as a formal address but abba is the more intimate and affectionate address used by small children, e.g., “papa” or “daddy.”

There is something behind Jesus' use of abba in His hour of greatest difficulty. He saw God as an affectionate parent, but at the same time He also had full reverence towards God. Thanks to Mark's Gospel we see the depth and breadth of a Father and Son relationship at work during those crucial moments in Jesus' life on earth.

2. Called by God to be God's sons and daughters, how is the intimate and respectful relationship expressed as you now pray to Him? Address God as “Abba, Father” just like Jesus did even as you are faced with hurts caused by the crisis or by other reasons.

Prayer Requests:

You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIP) using 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 currently sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

He himself was wounded for our sins. (Fourth oracle of the Servant of the Lord.)

See, my servant shall prosper,
  he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him—
  so marred was his look beyond human semblance
  and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man—
so shall he startle many nations,
  because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
  those who have not heard shall ponder it.
Who would believe what we have heard?
  To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
  like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
  nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
  a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
  spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
  our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
  as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
  crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
  by his stripes we were healed.
  We had all gone astray like sheep,
  each following his own way;
but the Lord laid upon him
  the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
  and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
  or a sheep before the shearers,
  he was silent and opened not his mouth.
  Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
  and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
  and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
  and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
  nor spoken any falsehood.
But the Lord was pleased
  to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
  he shall see his descendants in a long life,
  and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction
  he shall see the light
  in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
  and their guilt he shall bear.
  Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
  and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
  and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
  and win pardon for their offenses.

John 18:1—19:42

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”
  So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.
  Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm.
  The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
  Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed.
  Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,” in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
  When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.
  Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!” When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
  When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!” They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
  So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
  and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did. Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
  After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
  Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
  Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and that they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.