Word, Deed, and Prayer — Because He ‘Demands’ It

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary, and you’ll find spiritual gems. Like this one:

Jesus said: “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” (742).

We live in a society that is constantly telling us to make something of ourselves. Women especially are encouraged to forsake raising families, as if having children and caring for others is just a burden. Unfortunately, our culture hasn’t yet realized that the more we focus on ourselves to the neglect of everyone else, the unhappier as a society we will become.

The good news is that we have an advocate: Jesus Christ. He came to earth to save us from sin, and He left behind instructions for us.

One of those instructions is to perform deeds of mercy for our neighbors. When you’re feeling alone and miserable, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is ministering to the poor, the homeless, the sick, or the imprisoned. But witnessing the suffering of others has the tendency to take you out of your own misery and enable you to see the world anew. 

That’s the miracle of mercy. It helps everyone involved. After all, God made us to minister to one another. Scripture says:

For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them (Eph 2:10). 

This Diary passage continues: “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” (742).

There are three ways to exercise mercy. One is to do a good deed for someone else. This can be the hardest work of mercy to do. It often involves more effort than the others.   

Do you know anyone who is sick in your life? Do you know anyone in the nursing home or in the hospital? Do you know anyone in prison? Visit them.

Or how about donating baby formula or diapers to a local pregnancy help center? Or you could contact a local food pantry or soup kitchen and ask about opportunities for service. Or how about becoming a mentor to a foster child or serving as a literacy volunteer? Or how about taking the necessary steps through your parish so that you can take the Eucharist to the homebound? Or how about adopt an animal from a shelter?

You can perform a work of mercy through word, too. What does that mean? It can simply mean saying something nice to someone else. Or telling someone who has hurt you that you forgive them. Is there a quality in a loved one that you admire? Tell them about it. Do you know someone struggling through a crisis? Offer to prepare a meal for them. Offer them an ear to listen, if they’d like to talk about it with you. 

Finally: Pray! You can always simply pray for someone in need. Maybe consider joining in on a parish novena or volunteering for Eucharistic Adoration. In this case, I recommend keeping a daily prayer journal and writing down the names of those for whom you are praying, otherwise you might lose track.  

If you’re on Instagram, go to @TheDivineMercy to check out Marc Massery’s weekly “Discovering the Diary” videos.

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