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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: From Galilee To Jerusalem City and Back (DAY 29)

Three Trees
by Jan Siberechts of Antwerp and England

Today is Day 29 of the whole community retreat journey.

Points Of Departure: An Easter Folktale "The Tale Of Three Trees" by Anonymous writer, retold by Angela Elwell Hunt; published by David C. Cook; all images are the works of Peter Paul Rubens.

Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

A Shepherd With His Flock In A Woody Landscape
by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1615
The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship," he said. "I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!" The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. "I shall hold wonderful treasure."
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his axe, the third tree fell.

Winter The Interior Of A Barn by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1618
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

Miraculous Draft Of Fishes by Peter Paul Rubens

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.

The Ascent To Calvary by Peter Paul Rubens

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God."

Adoration Of The Magi by Peter Paul Rubens

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox. "I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

Christ On The Sea Of Galilee by Peter Paul Rubens

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awaken. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth!

The Raising Of The Cross, detail by Peter Paul Rubens

One Friday morning the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

The Resurrection Of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1612

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. 
He had made the first tree beautiful.
He had made the second tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.
And that was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Second Point: From Galilee To Jerusalem City and Back

The Three Crosses
by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1620
I reflected on the Easter Vigil mass homily by Pope Francis on the message of hope. He said that Jesus instructed his disciples to go forth to Galilee, “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee” (Mt 28:10). “He is going before you to Galilee” (v. 7), the angel says. Pope Francis has reminded everyone that "The Lord goes before us; he goes before us always. It is encouraging to know that he walks ahead of us in life and in death; he goes before us to Galilee, that is, to the place which for him and his disciples evoked the idea of daily life, family and work."

I recalled my first family visit to the US in New Jersey. I was toured around Manhattan in New York City. One that I will never forget was going up the 104 storey high One World Trade Center Observatory–the tallest building I had ever been to. When I reached the 100th floor a breath taking 360 degrees panoramic view of the quintessential city, a.k.a. the City That Never Sleeps, opened before me. It felt like I was Jack in the movie Titanic shouting at the top of my lungs “I'm the king of the world.” Then just a few seconds after that I received a message from our mission parish in my home country Philippines. The message was from our parish staff telling me, in the local dialect, "Dre nahurot na ang balas ug kabilya ug wala nay mabuhat ang mga panday." (Fr. please be informed that we ran out of construction supply of sand and steel bars; because of that there is no more work to be done by the laborers.) The feeling of being at the center of the world was cut short by a poignant message from back home. To me that was God gently prodding me to go home to my Galilee to attend to something he has called me to do–a servile mission to finish the construction of our new parish church building. At that moment it became much clearer to me what labouring with Christ entailed. That was better than climbing the tallest building or highest mountain in the world.

After rising from the dead, Jesus takes full control of accompanying and directing his disciples. Through his death and Resurrection, he has transformed everything which no mere human effort would be able to accomplish. This is the Resurrection message that if Jesus will not direct and guide us we labour in vain. With the risen Lord everything is possible. Like the disciples let us go back to Galilee bearing with us Christ's joy with the firm hope that he will always be present to His Church. Not even death could separate us now.

Opening Prayer

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire. Here it will be to ask for an intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.

Word Of God:
1. Matthew 28:8–15 (Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.)

Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. Pope Francis added that "For the disciples, Galilee was also the place of remembrance, for it was the place where they were first called. Returning to Galilee means remembering that we have been loved and called by God. Each one of us has their own Galilee. What do you consider your own Galilee that Jesus asks you to return to and resume the journey? It is like a place where we are born and reborn through God's gratuitous love. A place of beginnings where "we can set out anew, especially in times of crisis and trial, remembering our Galilee."

2. Reflect how God dwells in creatures: in the elements giving them existence, in the plants giving them life, in the animals conferring upon them sensation, in man bestowing understanding.  So He dwells in me and gives me being, life, sensation, intelligence; and makes a temple of me, since I am created in the likeness and image of the Divine Majesty. (SE 235)

3. This is to consider how God works and labours for me in all creatures upon the face of the earth, that is, He conducts Himself as one who labours.  Thus, in the heavens, the elements, the plants, the fruits, the cattle etc., He gives being, conserves them, confers life and sensation, etc. (SE 236)

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

Matthew 28:8–15

Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
  While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.


  1. Thank you once again for words to bring along as soom I will also going back to my Galilee ... maybe after the lockdown...God bless you Fr. JM.


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