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Mercy for Beloved Enemies

Day 28 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for Beloved Enemies

‘Be always merciful, as I am merciful. Love everyone out of love for Me, even your greatest enemies, so that My Mercy may be fully reflected in Your heart.’ (1695)

St. Faustina recorded those words as she listened to God. She was distressed, as a fellow sister in her religious order was spreading lies about her. Housemates’ cool and suspicious response to Faustina alerted her to such gossip. She listened to God, sought His Mercy in order to forgive the liar then actively blessed her.

St. Faustina gives us a sound example of how to handle beloved enemies. These are the wounds that cut deepest, because the ‘wound-ers’ are friends. The ‘hit and run’ abuse from an unknown adversary cannot compare to the betrayal of those we had every reason to trust.

That’s why Church and family wounds take so long to heal. We relied on these ‘good ones’, so the ‘hit’ sends our soul into loss (lifeless: a ‘life-line’, broken!) and disorientation (clueless: what is it about humanity and myself that I don’t understand?).

Beloved Christian enemies are especially difficult. David wrote:

‘If a foe were insulting me, I could endure it. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship…My companion now attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.’ (Ps. 55:12-14; 20, 21)

Yet we have hope amid such betrayal. Why? We live under the shadow of Christ Crucified. In light of beloved enemies, Jesus invites us to share in His suffering. We kneel before His Agony in our little one, welcoming the Water that cleanses our wound from sources of infection (hatred, bitterness, vengeance), as well as the Blood that gives us Life, the living Mercy.

Consoled by Mercy, God asks us to extend Mercy. We forgive our offenders so we can be forgiven (Matt. 6:14, 15). In St. Faustina’s paraphrase: ‘If a soul does not exercise Mercy, it will not obtain Mercy at the day of judgment.’ (1317)

Harder still is bearing with the forgiven offender. St. Faustina grants us a picture of the transforming power of forgiveness. She lived with many of her beloved enemies! She sought no restraining order; she sought instead to imitate Christ by loving them boldly, impartially, genuinely.

Jesus gave her this instruction amid the growing envy and disdain toward her as the ‘divine mercy’ call began to gain momentum:

‘Never claim your rights. Bear with great patience and calm what befalls you. Do not defend yourself when you are put to shame…Let others triumph. Do not stop being good when your goodness is abused. I Myself will speak up for you when it is necessary.’ (1701)

Through the Cross, beloved enemies make us more like Jesus. He uses them to kill our self-justifying ways; He raises us up in turn through His advocacy. And He deepens His well of Mercy in us through such surrender. After one long Church battle, He said to me: ‘If she only gave you good things, your love for her would never mature.’

Merciful surrender to Jesus in the face of beloved enemies accomplishes holy ends. ‘The greater the suffering, the purer the love.’ (57)

‘At my first defense, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that though me the message might be fully proclaimed…’ (2 Tim. 4:16, 17)

‘When they hurled insults at Jesus, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.’ (1P. 2:23)

‘Jesus, show us our wounds, that we might discover Yours afresh. Do not spare us the truth of betrayal. We surrender to You in it. United with You and Your divine purposes, let Mercy prevail. Console us as we ache and forgive, over and over. Strengthen us to rise and to bear with beloved enemies. We do so for Your name’s sake, and for the unity and integrity of Your body, the Church.’

‘O Blood and Water, that gushes forth from the Heart of the Savior as a Fount of Mercy for us, we trust in You!’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Humility and Mercy

Day 26 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Humility and Mercy

‘God has surrounded me with His special Mercy precisely because I am the weakest of all people.’ (1099)

‘Humility is nothing but the truth.’ (1502)

Mercy opens our eyes to the Creator who upon the Cross gave us everything. Mercy opens our eyes to the magnificence of our God.

In the light of His splendor, our only honest response is humility. He created all yet we are but one of a billion created beings—humbling. He never sinned yet He gave up everything to free us from our sin—humbling. Forgiven by His Water, enlivened by His Blood, we still sin, denying Him in thought, word and deed—humbling. Divine Mercy alone sustains us—humbling.

Humility is nothing but the truth. St. Faustina said nearly all we need to know about humility in those six words. It results from knowing who God is and who we are in light of Him. When Almighty Mercy courses through an increasingly self-aware soul, we grow in humility. Truth breeds humility, humility is sustained by Truth.

Fixed on the Author and Finisher of our human destinies, we come to a startling revelation. We are not mostly beast; we bear His image. The Creator and Redeemer of the Universe made us human in His likeness. We represent Him on earth in these beautiful, broken frames. Nearly unfathomable. Humility alone makes it possible to accept God’s call upon our humanity to reflect His glory.

We look at the true image of God in Jesus Christ and we witness humility. He who possessed all power surrendered that power to be reconciled to us. We used our created power to resist Him in self-defense. He poured out His power to give us Mercy, the grace to lay down our arms until we rest in His.

‘Humility, humility and ever humility, as we can do nothing of ourselves; all is purely and simply God’s grace.’ (55)

Jesus embodies humility; His life commands that power be judged solely by whether it empowers others to love.

And so we take our places in God’s Church, less inclined to judge others as worse sinners. Our eyes barely see others’ faults in light of the Mercy gazing upon our beauty and our brokenness. The more weakness, the greater the divine strength; with heightened misery, Mercy rising…

‘Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…’(Phil. 2:6,7)

‘I put up with this Church in the hope that one day it will become better just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that one day I will become better.’ Erasmus

‘May strong Mercy empower us to love others. We take our cues from You, O Lord of love, who uses power to empower us onto higher, truer expressions of our humanity. As we humble ourselves before You, elevate our vision, O God. As we humble ourselves before Your family on earth, use us to elevate their vision. Let strong Mercy flow from humble reckoning with our weakness before You, Humble King.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Mercy and Gratitude

Day 11 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘O Jesus, the more I have known You, the more ardently I have desired You.’ (591)

This woman loved Jesus from a distance; she had witnessed His healings, listened to His teachings and been converted by His powerful love for the lost and the least. She was among them, ‘a sinful woman’, probably a prostitute. We can assume her shame and also her despair, until God revealed Himself to her.

Before she met Jesus, the face of God for her was the Pharisee’s: exacting, decent, exclusive. Her face burned with shame when a religious man looked at her. Jesus’ eyes were different; they seemed to know all about her yet did not scorn her. In truth, He seemed to see her as more than just a ‘bad girl’, as if He were pleading for something better for her.

His Mercy won her over. When she saw Him eating with the Pharisee, she wanted to run right over and give herself to Him, to thank Him, yes, to devote herself to Him. (Lk. 7: 36-50) She knew what it meant to give herself to guys, but that’s not what motivated her this time. It was gratitude; His Mercy made her want to surrender to Him and follow Him, pure and simple.

Her problem? The Pharisee eating with Him! Her liberator and her captor together! Brave-hearted, she risked rejection from the one in order to worship the Other. She endured the Pharisee’s shame for the joy set before her. Silently, she washed His feet with perfume and with tears of gratitude for His love for her. The Pharisee looked on aghast. Was Jesus naïve? Unclean? Certainly not the Savior of the world!

Jesus asked him: if one man owed a banker a hundred dollars and another man owed him a thousand, who would be more grateful for the release of the loan? This woman gave me everything in grateful response to My Mercy; you sit there detached, heady, asking me theological questions with no intention of worshipping Me. ‘Her many sins have been forgiven, and as a result, she loves Me much. But He who has been forgiven of a little will love little.’ (Lk. 7: 47)

Those of us blessed with the duo knowledge of our many sins and the Mercy that is our only Hope become true worshippers. We devote ourselves to Him gratefully because He alone has set us free. No-one or nothing else will do. Only He has the keys to life: the forgiveness of sin, the fighting chance to be reconciled to the better, truer self of His design.

Maybe that’s why Jesus commissioned the Samaritan woman to be one of the true worshippers who would devote herself to Him in Spirit and in Truth (Jn. 4: 23). An unclean woman also, exposed by the all-seeing eye of Jesus, she realized that He alone was God and could set her free. Mercy received in the form of ‘Living Water’ primed her to gratefully worship Him, thus leading the way for millions like us to do the same.

‘Thank You for Mercy, O God. Grant us courage to bypass the Pharisee (in our own hearts and in our churches) in order to worship You with gratitude. You have made Your Mercy known to us. We worship You, O God. Rescue those locked up in fear of the Pharisee. Make Your kind and all-powerful vision for their good evident to them. Use us as Your agents of Mercy in this way, we pray. May many be reunited to the Lord of Mercy through our grateful witness of Mercy.’

 

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