go and do likewise

and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise
lessons from saint mary faustina

saint mary faustia kowalska

saint mary faustia kowalska

today’s gospel reading is one that is very familiar to me–and perhaps to many–luke 10:25-37, the parable of the good samaritan.

a lawyer comes to jesus and asks how he can inherit eternal life. jesus turns the question back on the lawyer, who knows what the law says, and quotes: “you shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’
jesus responds to the lawyer with a simply command “do this, and you will live.”

the lawyer, who i have to identify with here, needs more information–needs more guidance–and asks, “and who is my neighbour?”

it is here that we hear the story of the good samaritan from jesus. the priest and a levite make it a point to walk on the opposite side of the road from this man who has been beaten and lies along the road waiting either for help or to die. but then a samaritan was passing by–and rather than move to the other side of the road he comes near to the man. there are a out of verbs in the few verses that follow this movement by the samaritan.

the samaritan comes near,

went to him, bandaged his wounds, put him on his own animal,

"...and he put him on his own animal..."

brought him to an inn and tells the innkeeper to take care of him while he is away. thats a lot of doing.

using this teaching moment, jesus offers a small quiz to those listening to this interaction and story. he asks “which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

continuing in the style of the telling of this parable, jesus keeps throwing verbs around and gives a specific ‘take home’ for this story. “go and do likewise.”

it seems pretty simple. the samaritan offered mercy to his neighbour. and so should you.

and yet, i continually find myself questioning who my neighbour is, or not treating those who cross my path as i should be treating my neighbour. AND THEN i find myself confronted with someone who does show mercy to their neighbour like christ has called us to do. and i’m convicted and challenged to work to embrace the craziness of the holy spirit and be christ to my neighbour.
today is such a day.

i have this calendar on my office wall from “leadership” magazine, which is a catholic publication in uganda. the pictures on this calendar are nothing to be excited about, and i can’t say that the mission  for each month printed below the picture inspires me to greatness (or even mediocrity for that matter). so, why do i have this calendar hanging on my office wall then? there are three answers to that questions:
1) it was free. i like free.
2) the lectionary readings are printed on each day making it easier to just glance at the calendar to know the day’s readings (i’m lazy and need encouragement, what can i say)
3) saints feast days are printed above the lectionary readings. i like saints and feast days.
sometimes, i if i don’t know the saint whose feast day it is (i rarely know the saint…) and i have time/am willing to make time and am curious enough, i’ll google said saint after reading the lections for the day.

today was one of those days. i googled saint mary faustina fowalska after reading todays lections and was genuinely challenged/inspired by the intersections of today’s gospel reading and what i’ve learned in my ever-so-scholarly research.

saint mary faustina kowalska, born august 25 1905 (third of ten children) as helena kowalska in glowowiec, poland entered the convent on april 30, 1926 at age 21. (she had been turned down from several before she was finally accepted at congregation of the sisters of our lady of mercy…) upon entering the convent she took the name sister mary faustina of the blessed sacrament.

the first thing that really caught my attention about st. faustina was the following quote from the vatican website: “although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with god.”

this captured my interest and kept me reading–and thats when i stumbled on the person who today will confront me with a true following of christ, showing mercy to neighbour and challenge to work on my own shortcomings and denials of the spirit’s movement.

during her mundane and so-called boring life in the convent  sister mary faustina focused on “contemplating and getting to know the mystery of god’s mercy” which helped her to “develop within [her] the attitude of child-like trust in god as well as mercy toward neighbours.”

pope john paul II canonized sister mary, an ordinary seemingly insignificant lady on 30 april 2000 as saint mary faustina. 30 april 2000 was the second sunday of easter, which, JPII said “from now on throughout the church will be called “divine mercy sunday”.” he named the second sunday of easter “divine mercy sunday” on the day he canonized saint faustina because of her dedication to and love for her neighbour–for the mercy she sought to communicate from christ to the world, to her neighbour.

her commitment to neighbour and mercy are evident in her many of her diary entries. in her diary, sr mary preserved her visions, conversations with jesus and mother mary and kept an account of her convictions/learnings.

she prayed, “o my jesus, each of your saints reflects one of your virtues; i desire to reflect your compassionate heart, full of mercy; i want to glorify it. let your mercy, o jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul and this will be my badge in this and the future life.”

saint faustina's vision of christ as divine mercy. the red beam represents christ's blood, the eucharist... the white beam water, the renewal of baptism. all together, the divine mercy of christ for humanity.

saint faustina's vision of christ as divine mercy. the red beam represents christ's blood, the eucharist... the white beam water, the renewal of baptism. all together, the divine mercy of christ for humanity.

later, no doubt feeling the effects of willingly entering into the broken heart of god [as evident in her prayer above] she writes,  “i feel tremendous pain when i see the sufferings of my neighbours. all my neighbours’ sufferings reverberate in my own heart; i carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it physically destroys me. i would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relive my neighbour.”

i think JPII sums this up well in his canonization homily when he said, “this is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of god as its measure.”

and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise.
did jesus complain of compassion fatigue? maybe that is what sabbath is for.
and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise.
if it were only that easy.
and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise.
saint faustina was barely literate. and yet had a closely intimate relationship with christ.
and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise.
i think i get too caught up in education and learning to DO likewise. i’m pretty good about reading about doing likewise. and day dreaming about doing likewise. and wondering what “doing likewise would look like on the ground” but have a lot to learn about DOing likewise.
and who is my neighbour? …go and do likewise.
i want to do more of these things: be near, go to, bandage wounds,  take care…
as is pretty typical of my reflections, i seem to have ended up with more questions than answers. more things on my list rather than things checked off…

go and do likewise.