You Did It to Me

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“An ardent love of God sees all around itself constant opportunities to share itself through deed, word, and prayer.” — Diary, 1313

My friend Mother Teresa used to hold up her hand and count off on her five fingers, quoting Jesus’ words “You did it to me.” She lived her life this way, wholeheartedly believing that each person she served was Jesus Himself! After all, Jesus had said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). This week’s spiritual exercise delves deeply into the works of mercy and serving Jesus in others. Let’s see how St. Faustina took this to heart and put it into action. Let’s get right to it!

We know that Jesus was telling His disciples about His Second Coming in Matthew 25:40. The Bible tells us that all of the angels will be with Jesus when He comes. All of the nations will be gathered and Jesus will separate the good from the evil — the sheep from the goats. The good will be told that they will inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The evil will be sent away to eternal punishment.

What determines where one is sent — to Heaven or hell? Jesus tells us that our fate will be determined by how we have loved. Simply stated, those who took care of and loved the poor will be rewarded with eternal happiness in Heaven. Those who chose to turn their backs on the needs of the poor will suffer eternal damnation. Sobering, yes. But we should be thankful that Jesus told us. Jesus clearly stated, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-36). The accursed who heard Jesus asked when it was that they had seen Jesus with these needs. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Mt. 25:45). Jesus’ words could not be clearer. We are here on earth to help one another physically and spiritually. We are to offer mercy to others and help them to get to Heaven.

Saint Faustina Offers Mercy

We recall that when Sr. Faustina arrived in Warsaw to begin her third probation, she heard Jesus tell her in the chapel, “My daughter, I desire your heart be formed after the model of My merciful Heart. You must be completely imbued with My mercy” (Diary, 167). These powerful words filled her heart and soul. She prayed to be formed after the model of Jesus’ merciful heart. Sister Faustina was obedient to the duties of her state of life, her religious vocation, and her superiors. She was continually merciful in her actions and words, and even in her prayers. No matter what duty she was assigned or task she was required to carry out, her heart was merciful towards others. When some of the elderly sisters snapped at Sr. Faustina or found fault with her housekeeping, Sr. Faustina continued to aim to please and didn’t let on that the criticisms wore her down. When some of the sisters made fun of Sr. Faustina after hearing rumors that she was a mystic, Sr. Faustina remained humble and loving. She always returned a kind word or remained silent.   

We have already seen that in her role as the gatekeeper, Sr. Faustina served many a sandwich or mug of soup to the hungry beggars who showed up at the convent’s gate. We know that one time, Jesus Himself visited Sr. Faustina in the disguise of a beggar. He told her, “[Y]our compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne — to taste the fruits of your mercy” (Diary, 1312). Sister Faustina already had a heart for the poor and needy, but her love for them grew tremendously after that experience. She wrote in her Diary, “From that moment on, there was stirred up in my heart an even purer love toward the poor and the needy. Oh, how happy I am that my superiors have given me such a task!” She thoroughly enjoyed answering the door and greeting the beggars. Sister Faustina’s example of offering mercy teaches us that we need to choose to do good and that we should be capable of doing so at any given moment. Sister Faustina wrote, “I understand that mercy is manifold; one can do good always and everywhere at all times. An ardent love of God sees all around itself constant opportunities to share itself through deed, word, and prayer. Now I understand the words which you spoke to me, O Lord, some time ago” (Diary, 1313).

Works of Mercy

The Church teaches that our good example and good works have tremendous transforming power. “The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God.” Let’s take a look at good works, or works of mercy. The Catechism tells us:

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. [Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3] Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. [Cf. Mt 25:31-46] Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God [Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4] (CCC, 2447).

The spiritual works of mercy pertain to the soul, while the corporal works of mercy pertain to the body. Let’s take a look at them:

Corporal Works of Mercy

• Feed the hungry

• Give drink to the thirsty

• Clothe the naked

• Shelter the homeless

• Visit the prisoners

• Comfort the sick

• Bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

• Teach the ignorant

• Pray for the living and dead

• Correct sinners

• Counsel those in doubt

• Console the sorrowful

• Bear wrongs patiently

• Forgive wrongs willingly

Jesus Gives us Three Ways to Exercise Mercy 

Jesus told St. Faustina the three ways to exercise mercy that will help others, but will also glorify and pay reverence to Jesus’ mercy. He said, “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).

Sister Faustina wrote about these three degrees of mercy in her Diary, saying, “The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically” (Diary, 163).

I’d like to close this chapter with a beautiful example of rendering service to our neighbor and how it affects Jesus. One time when Sr. Faustina was not feeling well, she couldn’t go to the chapel for the Passion Service (Palm Sunday), and so had to stay behind in her room, where she prayed. A bell rang in the next room. Sister Faustina immediately got up, though she was weak, to help the severely sick sister in need. She recalled, “When I returned to my room, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who said, ‘My daughter, you gave Me greater pleasure by rendering Me that service than if you had prayed for a long time.’” The young mystic questioned Jesus. “But it was not You, Jesus, but to that patient that I rendered this service.” Jesus answered His faithful servant, “Yes, My daughter, but whatever you do for your neighbor, you do for Me” (Diary, 1029). As we know, this was not the first time that Sr. Faustina was blessed to find out from Jesus Himself that He was pleased with her loving works of mercy.

Something to Ponder

Take time this week to ponder Jesus’ instruction to serve Him in others: “You did it to me.” Also, look over the list of the works of mercy. Think about the merciful actions that you will commit to carrying out. Meanwhile, call to mind that St. Faustina declared that giving mercy is possible at all times. Opportunities abound for showing mercy. We choose whether or not we will be merciful. We might ask ourselves some honest questions. Do we choose to turn our back on a need due to selfishness or laziness? Do we choose to answer a criticism with a kind word and a prayer? Or do we choose to react negatively? Do we bear wrongs patiently? These and other questions we can ponder as we do a mental examination of our behavior and motives. Let’s choose the high road! We must make good progress in our spiritual lives. If we are not moving forward, we are most certainly slipping backwards.

A Merciful Action

After pondering the lists of the works of mercy, if possible, carry out at least one that you’ve never done before. Refer to the lists all throughout your St. Faustina pilgrimage this year. Try not to shy away from the ones you’ve never done before. Try to pray as St. Faustina prayed: “Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks” (Diary, 163).

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, I want to be among the righteous and be rewarded with eternal happiness in Heaven. Please help me to choose to do good all of the time. Please grant me the graces I need in order to do so. Mother Mary, help me. Saint Faustina, please pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You! Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash.

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