Privileged time: time to take a break

From Manila: Sr Hong Tham


special timeAt this time of the pandemic, I am in the final months of Scripture course at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS), Manila, Philippines. I, together with other sisters who have finished their studies but are still stuck here, have been having a unique experience with both opportunities and challenges.

How grateful we felt when all of us were safe after the two weeks of isolation when we learnt that one of our schoolmates had been infected with the coronavirus.

This is the time for the faithful to pause to look both outside and inside, to observe the changes, the passing things with total attention.

We were invited to join some seminars for dealing with the pandemic with topics, such as the healing power of beauty, nature as therapy.

The words of Pascal are significant: “in difficult times, you should always carry something beautiful with you, and in your mind”. We practise beholding the beauty of nature, to be touched and healed by it. Beauty makes us go deeper inside, to rest in our sacred space because nature is inherently healing. If we look at the pandemic through the eyes of the prophets, their metaphor for God is s the great physician

Plague, the pandemic, illness is always interpreted as the judgment of God and also as the cause for God to heal and to make something new. Therefore, divine judgment is also divine salvation. In the prophets’ view, the present time is also a sign for them to constantly remind Israel of its deepest obligations as well as ours as Christians, we who are “the wild shoots” that have been grafted on to “the well-cultivated olive tree”. The prophets’ role of both announcing and denouncing is needed in every age to help us to recognize the divine presence and to respect the sanctity of life. This role challenges me today.

Sr. Hong Tham


[1] Seminars of Dr. Honey Carandang and Dr. Arnold Lumbao

[2] See James A. Sanders, Torah and Canon. Fortress Press, 1972,82

[3] Nostra Aetate, 4