Homily for the Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, who many of us know was one of the greatest saints of mercy that the Church has ever seen. Throughout her life as a nun, Faustina had many miraculous visions of the Lord and within those visions had conversations with Jesus. Those conversations and visions were mostly documented in her personal journal. As Catholic Christians, we should be incredibly thankful for those journal entries because they have taught us so much about the richness of the mercy of God and how we are called to live it, how we are called to be merciful in our own lives. The instructions that Jesus gave to Faustina are similar to the instructions that we hear about in today’s Gospel. They are instructions on how we are called to be instruments through which God’s mercy flows to others.
In this particular passage from Luke, Jesus is having a conversation with a scholar of the Law who is trying to test him. To teach this gentleman something about what it truly means to love the Lord, Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a moment that reveals to this scholar – but also to all of the disciples – that in order to love God, they have to love their neighbors, even if that sometimes means temporarily putting aside the strict laws of the Jewish faith.
You may know that the priest and the Levite were forbidden by Jewish law to come into contact with a dead body; it would make them ritually impure to celebrate or participate in the sacrifices of the Temple. The priest and the Levite thought this man was dead and if they were on their way to the Temple, that means they would not have been able to do anything for the Jewish people looking to participate in Temple worship. Now, there were other things they could have done like get someone else to help, but they didn’t. And that’s what Jesus is really calling attention to here. Because that’s exactly what the Samaritan man did. Even though Samaritans and Jews despised each other, the Samaritan traveler still made sure his fellow man was cared for. That’s the love that we are all called to bring to each other. It doesn’t matter who we are or who the other person is, we are still called to bring God’s love to those we encounter.
In one of her journal entries, St. Faustina details one of her conversations with Jesus. In it, Jesus tells her this:
“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it. I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first – by deed, the second – by word, the third – by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy” (Diary 742).
That’s the kind of thing each of us is called to do. Are we willing to embrace living that radical form of love of our neighbor? Today, may we challenge ourselves with that question. Pray and reflect on it. If we truly want to be recipients of God’s mercy, we have to show it to others. May we have the courage to do just that today.