5 October, Wednesday — You hypocrites!

Oct 5 – Memorial for St. Faustina Kowalska, Virgin, religious, Christian Mystic

Maria Faustyna Kowalska (born Helena Kowalska; 25 August 1905 – 5 October 1938), also known as Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament and popularly spelled Faustina, was a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic. Her apparitions of Jesus Christ inspired the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy and earned her the title of “Secretary of Divine Mercy”.

Throughout her life, Kowalska reported having visions of Jesus and conversations with him, which she noted in her diary, later published as The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. Her biography, submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, quoted some of the conversations with Jesus regarding the Divine Mercy devotion.

At the age of 20 years, she joined a convent in Warsaw. She was later transferred to Płock and then to Vilnius, where she met Father Michał Sopoćko, who was to be her confessor and spiritual director, and who supported her devotion to the Divine Mercy. With this priest’s help, Kowalska commissioned an artist to paint the first Divine Mercy image, based on her vision of Jesus. Father Sopoćko celebrated Mass in the presence of this painting on Low Sunday, also known as the Second Sunday of Easter or (as established by Pope John Paul II), Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Catholic Church canonized Kowalska as a saint on 30 April 2000. The mystic is classified in the liturgy as a virgin and is venerated within the church as the “Apostle of Divine Mercy”. Her tomb is in Divine Sanctuary, Kraków-Łagiewniki, where she spent the end of her life and met confessor Józef Andrasz, who also supported the message of mercy.

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Gal 2:1-2,7-14
Lk 11:1-4

carried away by their hypocrisy

Today’s first reading took me a few reads to grasp what it was really saying to me. To begin, I thought it was so incredibly gracious and gentlemanly of Paul and Peter to divide up their work — Paul’s main ministry was to Gentiles, while Peter’s main mission was to the Jews. These divisions were not absolute though, as each ministered to the other groups and fellowshipped with one another’s communities — Love.

Then the word hypocrisy struck me. Who was being a hypocrite here?

Hypocrite — a term used to describe a person who puts up false appearances about who they are; someone who wears a mask (no, this has nothing to do with the pandemic); people who are out to deceive others and hide who they really are.

Even among the apostles, there were hypocrites. Our great apostle, Peter, kept his true beliefs hidden. Although he was tasked with bringing the gospel to the Jews, he believed that Gentile believers (who were uncircumcised and did not observe Mosaic laws) were also Christians.

Why then, did he withdraw and separate himself from the Gentiles and not eat with them when his cronies came along? He had been eating with them all this while. The answer is simple. He did not want to be judged by ‘those who were of the circumcision’.

Peter had previously supported accepting Gentiles into the church without subjecting them to the Law of Moses, but when he arrived at Antioch (Paul’s home church), things had changed. Once several Jewish Christians from Jerusalem arrived, he refused to mingle with them!

Do we not recall that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors? This hardly suggests that he followed rigorous Jewish tradition.

Sadly, by being hypocritical, Peter inspired others to do the same — “Teachers who commit sins are teachers of sins,” Even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. This upset Paul so much that he had a public, and heated, argument with Peter over this issue… I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.

Not all hypocrites intend to deceive others in a negative way. Some people hide who they are to avoid being judged or hurt by others; while others wear masks simply to be accepted by the ‘in crowd.’ Everyone wants to be accepted and loved.

As I consider this, I have a great deal of sympathy for such individuals. I too, used to hide behind masks to hide my shame. Some people hide behind masks to conceal a hurt, some do so to be the person others expect them to be, while others do it to conceal their modest origins in order to conform to societal norms. But isn’t being a ‘hypocrite’ really exhausting? Yes, I felt too tired. Far more comfortable to be what God made me to be.

I am aware of people who struggle to make ends meet, yet insist on clinging on to their District 10 (upmarket neighbourhood) residences. Or people who mistreat and abuse others in order to keep their employment, so as to uphold particular lifestyles of ‘success’, all the while singing on Sundays in their local parish choir.

They began to behave as though they were not Christians at all due to the ‘societal pressure’ from certain men from James. How have social pressures caused us to renounce our Christian beliefs and the love of God in order to be adored and accepted by others?

“If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

How can we eat roasted meats and lobster and say we keep a kosher diet? And yet before certain other people, we behave as though we have always upheld the laws?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I acted hypocritically and caused pain to others in an effort to gain approval and love. Please forgive me most of all, for condemning those who behave in the same manner. Even though I’m far from perfect, Lord, grant me the grace to change myself to be flawless in your eyes.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for opening up my eyes to see that no one is perfect. No one except you. Thank you for your example of unconditional love and acceptance.

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