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


30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Sacred Doubt (DAY 22)

Photo by Reuters.com (Pope Francis arrives
at the St. Peter's Square to give his extraordinary
Urbi et Orbi message which is normally given
only at Christmas and Easter.)
CONTEND, O LORD, WITH MY CONTENDERS; FIGHT THOSE WHO FIGHT ME. TAKE UP YOUR BUCKLER AND SHIELD; ARISE IN MY DEFENCE, LORD, MY MIGHTY HELP. PS 34: 1-2; 139: 8

Today is Day 22 of the whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Three Points Of Departure:

First Point: It is all right to challenge God by asking Him "Why?" Let us consider Habakkuk, the first prophet to challenge and to ask God "Why?" If the prophet were put in a situation like what we face now, I bet he would ask,"Why, if God is present, does He seem not to be? Why, if God is all good, does He seem not to be? Why do prayers sometimes seem to go unanswered? Why does God not stop this common enemy from taking innocent lives?"

Second Point: Allow me to quote a useful commentary by Michael Fallon to guide us in the meaning of "sacred doubt." He comments on the same passage in Mark that Pope Francis based his Urbi et Orbi message.

I quote, "Notice that Jesus does not contrast faith with doubt, but with fear (Mk 4:40). There is a doubt that is compatible with faith; a doubt that rises from a humble mind which recognizes the limits of its own perceptions. This kind of doubt is essential, for it is the knife-edge of the mind seeking deeper insight. Such doubt is accompanied by wonder and emerges from a mind that is bravely open to the mystery of life."

Fallon continues, "There is another kind of doubt, a doubt that feeds on fear. This is the doubt of a small-mind, a self-centered doubt, a doubt that leads to cynicism and despair. It is as though a person expects to be able to understand everything, and the realisation that this is not the case produces insecurity and fear. Again and again in the Gospels we hear Jesus saying: 'Do not be afraid'. It is fear that makes us slaves, whether to the vagaries of our own fickle feelings, or to those who would enslave us. The episode on the lake is telling us not to be afraid, whatever the circumstances, because Jesus, though silent, is in the boat with us. In the words of Paul: 'No circumstances can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom 8:39)." (Michael Fallon, The Winston Commentary on the Gospels, Winston Press 1980.)

Third Point: In the Passion Sunday homily of Pope Francis he said that, at the height of abandonment, our Lord Jesus himself asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). These are powerful words of a dying man but words of total abandonment in the arms of His Father. The Pope pointed out the use of the generic name “God.” These words are from Psalm (cf. 22:2) and not being able to call on God as "Abba" means he went through extreme desolation. But Jesus had total trust just like what God said in answer to the questions and doubts of Habakkuk,
"For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late." (Hab 2:3)

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire. To deepen my faith in God’s promise of redemption in the midst of worldwide human suffering.

Word Of God: (See full text below by universalis.com)
1. Habakkuk 1:12—2:4 (The just, because of their faith, shall live.)
2. John 12:1-11 (Mary of Bethany is a model of faith not by calculation. "We live by faith not by sight." cf. 2 Cor 5:7)

Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. I make even greater effort to labor with Jesus through all his pain, his struggle, his suffering, or what he is willing to suffer. At the time of the Passion, I should pay special attention to how the divinity hides itself so that Jesus seems so utterly human and helpless. I should make every effort to get inside the Passion, not just staying with external sufferings, but entering into the loneliness, the interior pain of rejection and feeling hated, all the anguish within Jesus. To realize Jesus loves me so much that he willingly suffers everything for my rejections and my sins make me ask: What response ought I make? (SE 197).

2. Oftentimes in desolation, we feel that God has left us to fend for ourselves. By faith, we know that God is always with us in the strength and power of grace, but at the time of apparent abandonment we are little aware of God’s continuing care and concern. We experience neither the support nor the sweetness of divine love, and our own response lacks fervor and intensity. It is as if we are living a skeletal life of the bare bones of faith (SE 320).

3. Imagine that you are given the opportunity to have a chat with Habakkuk like your friend. The prophet comes to you with all his questions and doubts. How would you react to his doubts? What would you say to him?

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 sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ


Habakkuk 1:12—2:4 ·

The just, because of their faith, shall live.

Are you not from eternity, O Lord,
  my holy God, immortal?
Lord, you have marked him for judgment,
  O Rock, you have readied him punishment!
Too pure are your eyes to look upon evil,
  and the sight of misery you cannot endure.
Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence
  while the wicked man devours
  one more just than himself?
You have made man like the fish of the sea,
  like creeping things without a ruler.
He brings them all up with his hook,
  he hauls them away with his net,
He gathers them in his seine;
  and so he rejoices and exults.
Therefore he sacrifices to his net,
  and burns incense to his seine;
for thanks to them his portion is generous,
  and his repast sumptuous.
Shall he, then, keep on brandishing his sword
  to slay peoples without mercy?
I will stand at my guard post,
  and station myself upon the rampart,
And keep watch to see what he will say to me,
  and what answer he will give to my complaint.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
  Write down the vision
Clearly upon the tablets,
  so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
  presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
If it delays, wait for it,
  it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash man has no integrity;
  but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.

John 12:1-11

Let her keep this for the day of my burial.

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
  The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

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