Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Saturday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska (75th anniversary of her birth into eternal life)
October 5, 2013
Bar 4:5-12.27-29, Ps 69, Lk 10:17-24
To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click:
The following points were attempted in this homily:
- Today Jesus speaks to us about God the Father’s “gracious will” to hide things from those who are puffed up on their own savvy intelligence and to reveal them to the “childlike.” It’s the childlike, those who trust in God and what he says, who depend on him rather than think they don’t need him, who are the ones who rejoice not fundamentally because of the gifts God has given (like the power to do exorcisms, as Jesus had given to the 72 he sent out) but because of God’s call to eternal communion (your names are written in heaven). It’s those who are childlike who can see and hear Jesus differently than the crowds, recognizing in him the Image and Word of God, for which there eyes were made to see and their ears to hear.
- It’s the childlike who grasp that when God disciplines us, it’s never vindictive, it’s never merely punishment, but it’s also medicinal and a part of the reform of life. That’s what we see what God did with the people of Israel by means of the exile, to bring them back to conversion. God says to the Israelites through the prophet Baruch today, “Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.” To the extent we were drawn to sin before, we need ten times more to be attracted toward his merciful love. That’s the path to enduring joy. It’s only those who are childlike, who trust in God enough to stake their life on his words, who will find that joy.
- This type of childlike trust in the Lord — and later, this message of the connection between mercy and joy — is evidenced in the saint we celebrate today, on the 75th anniversary of the day she was born into eternal life. St. Faustina Kowalska received her vocation when she was a 7 year old child, praying before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and wanted to enter the convent after completing her schooling, but her parents refused to give permission. Her parents put her to work at 16 cleaning houses to make money for the family. When she was 19 she went with her sister to a public dance in her hometown of Lodz and during the dance she had a vision of the suffering Jesus. She went to the cathedral where Jesus told her to leave for Warsaw immediately and join a convent. With childlike simplicity and trust, she obeyed, packing a bag that night and getting on the train, without her parents’ permission or knowing anyone in Warsaw. She entered a Church in Warsaw and asked the priest for guidance as to what community she should join. She approached various convents only to experience rejection, that they weren’t interested in accepting “maids.” Eventually she found the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, who told her that they’d accept her provided she could pay for her habit. She worked for a year for the money and then entered.
- Beginning in 1931, three years after her first vows, Jesus started to appear to her and reveal to her the message of his mercy. With childlike trust, she began to document this in her diary, serving as the Lord’s “secretary.” She suffered for doing so. The first thing that happened when she said to a priest that she was receiving these messages was that she was sent to a psychiatrist. Several of the other sisters began to get jealous of her, why she was something special, when they had so many more talents. But this is God’s gracious will, to reveal to the childlike.
- The best way we can celebrate her feast day is to receive anew today the message Christ gave her, the message of his mercy. The message of divine mercy reemphasizes what Jesus himself said in the Gospel, that we need his mercy, that he wants us to receive it in the way he established on Easter Sunday Evening (the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance), and that he wants us to share that mercy with others. It wasn’t enough for Jesus that we merely know these realities, but he wanted us to grow in veneration and love for these realities. That’s why he revealed to St. Faustina five practices he wanted us to engage in to grow of our recognition of how much we need his merciful love, how frequently we come to receive it, and how lavishly we receive it. The first practice is every day at 3 pm to pause for a little while at the “hour of mercy,” when he died on the Cross for us. How important it is for us never to forget what Christ has accomplished for us and remembering Jesus at 3, if even for 30 seconds, will have a dramatic impact on our growth in childlike faith. The second practice is to venerate the image of Divine Mercy Jesus revealed to St. Faustina, of how he seeks to bless us with his mercy, with his right hand raised in blessing and his left pointing to the blood and water flowing from his wounded side, the fountain of his merciful love. At the bottom of the image are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you,” that we trust in his mercy with childlike simplicity. The third practice is to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, in which, on Rosary beads, we repeatedly offer God the Father Jesus’ Eucharistic sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. The fourth practice is a novena, starting on Good Friday when Jesus died for us, and finishing on the Sunday after Easter, the day on which Jesus sent out the apostles to continue the very same mission of saving from sins that Jesus had come from the Father to inaugurate. During that novena, we pray for 9 different classes of people in need of God’s mercy. The last practice is that at the end of that novena, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, thanking God for the gift of his merciful love, which is the summary of the entire Gospel.
- Jesus said to us in today’s Gospel that no one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him, and today we rejoice in God’s gracious will that he has revealed both the Father and the Son’s merciful love today. We ask God through the intercession of St. Faustina on the 75th anniversary of the day when God came to call her to himself definitively, for the childlike simplicity to trust in what Jesus has revealed to us to grow in our our awareness, living, and sharing the mystery of God’s merciful love.
The readings for today’s Mass were:
BAR 4:5-12, 27-29
You were sold to the nations
not for your destruction;
It was because you angered God
that you were handed over to your foes.
For you provoked your Maker
with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods;
You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you,
and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.
She indeed saw coming upon you
the anger of God; and she said:“Hear, you neighbors of Zion!
God has brought great mourning upon me,
For I have seen the captivity
that the Eternal God has brought
upon my sons and daughters.
With joy I fostered them;
but with mourning and lament I let them go.
Let no one gloat over me, a widow,
bereft of many:
For the sins of my children I am left desolate,
because they turned from the law of God.
Fear not, my children; call out to God!
He who brought this upon you will remember you.
As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
turn now ten times the more to seek him;
For he who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”
PS 69:33-35, 36-37
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!”
R. The Lord listens to the poor.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They shall dwell in the land and own it,
and the descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. The Lord listens to the poor.
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”