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

Two Things God Does: God Gives, God Takes

here are three points to my sharing about today's Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first point. There are two actions we can see God revealing Himself to be doing: God gives, God takes. He gives all things. All things come from God. And when God gives He does not limit it to the righteous people only. He gives to all just as He sends rain to both the good ones and the wicked. The second that God does is He takes. What does it mean when God takes? Upon my reflection, it means not only taking back or taking away as it is usually perceived. We hear from Job 1:21 “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” At first glance in the life of Job we see how he was given so much blessings but all of a sudden the same blessings started to be taken away from him one after another. Nobody could contest that when God gives something He has also the right to take it back. But there is something deeper to this second act of God taking. We say that God gives unconditionally which means He will not take back what He has freely given already. What is given is given for all eternity regardless of one's actions and because God is also a cheerful giver. When we say God takes it means God endures, God suffers, God agonizes. When He allows Job, whom God loves, to go through suffering and empties him of all his properties including his loved ones and his own health, God takes on the pain first. God endures the emptiness of Job, God does not only enter Job's chaos, God takes part in it. I think this is a much more fitting and a much deeper understanding of the second divine action of God.

For the second point, I would like to pose a question. "What did God concretely do as ultimate acts of giving and taking?" I believe God gives through the mystery of Jesus's incarnation. God gives us everything through His incarnation. God gives Godself by becoming like one of us. His nativity to the paschal mystery is testament to God's desire to be God-with-us through and through. First through a family, Mary and Joseph is Jesus's way of sharing the basic and vital experience of growing up within the family. I always tell my retreatants, we can contemplate Jesus all we want but the only way to have more of Jesus is to contemplate Him together with His own mother, foster father, relatives and friends. When God gives He gives us His entire family, both human and divine, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No one is left out. And that includes even those we do not like. We will all be together in heaven. What about the instrument that God used in taking, and enduring all suffering? Can you guess what He took? He took up the cross. There is no point in time that God would say "I cannot take it anymore." No. God would never take that path. God always takes it up no matter how heavy the cross will weigh upon God. I like the celebration of the Triumph of the Cross on September 14. It is the triumphant act of God's taking, enduring, suffering, bearing, sacrificing through His cross. When we start to look at God in such an act, we see Him truly as our Savior. Suffering is a positive act; it is a saving act; it is salvific. We have been recipients in one way or another of somebody else's suffering, e.g., the suffering of our own parents. If it were not for them we would not be here right now. This is perfectly true with God who is present in the sacrifices of people who take loving care and take on our pain. Suffering in this sense becomes a positive act of love.

Third and last point. After the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the following day on September 15 we celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows. The gospel setting is at the foot of the cross with Mary, apostle John, Mary Magdalene and Mary, wife of Clopas. God could only give Himself and take the ultimate sacrifice on the cross with this woman—Mary. God's combined instrument of giving and taking is the person of His mother. No wonder the seven sorrows of Mary are powerful but only when these are borne out by Jesus. In Mary's eyes it is Jesus who is giving the graces to her and it is also Jesus who takes all the suffering for all. Mary's role as she stands beside her dying son is to take it as her own too. Today let us contemplate the mysteries of the sorrows of God born of a mother.

1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34–35)
2. The escape and Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 2:43–45)
4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary (John 19:25)
6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear, and His Descent from the Cross (Matthew 27:57–59)
7. The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:40–42)

Mary takes each of the seven sorrows which are her son's. The sorrow of a mother can only be the sorrow of her beloved son or daughter. She could not boast of any other sorrow apart from Jesus. She does not take it by herself for she simply could not. No human being could. That is why humanity needs a Savior. Jesus gives to Mary the graces that she needs to take every inch closer to the bloodied cross on Calvary. Mary knows so well God alone could muster the strength to take up everything. Her role was to give birth to the mission of her son. Let us follow Mary's example, the Star of the Sea, as she guides our way to her son. Blessed Virgin Mary, Sorrowful Mother, pray for us. Amen Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. When I read this part... When we say God takes it means God endures, God suffers, God iagonizes....God takes on the pain first.....God takes part in our pains ... I recall this touching scene in the movie The Shack...When Papa( the woman) said that she did not forsake His Son on the cross.. She was with Him...

    Our God is with us to bear and carry our crosses... Together as one! With Mary...


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