1st May, 2022

Medal St. Faustina

‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to man’

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter

Today, in the first reading of the Acts of the Apostles, there is a sentence that we can be considered one of the most important passages in the Bible. ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men’. This is exactly what Peter told the high priest, who warned him and who forbade him to preach in the name of Jesus.

‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men’. This beautiful and unambiguous sentence is a key sentence, and I would like to invite all of us to reflect on it today. As you remember, a week ago we celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. We probably know more or less the story of Saint Faustina Kowalska, who is very popular all over the world as the secretary of God’s Mercy. Perhaps we do not know all the details of her very short life, as she lived for only 33 years, and we probably never heard that Faustina or Helena Kowalska as she was then known, as a young and uneducated girl tried to join many convents. For many years she persistently asked, searched, knocked on many doors of various convents, but no one was interested in accepting her into their community. All the sisters who met and talked to her, saw in young Helena only a weak, frail, uneducated and very shy girl without any prospects who did not seem to be a good candidate in becoming a nun. For many reasons, no one gave her even a little chance or any hope of joining a convent. After many such attempts and many failures, without giving up, she finally knocked at the door of one of the convents in Warsaw, at Żytnia Street. It was the congregation of the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, and Helena was very fortunate that day, as the door was opened to her by a very pious, wise and welcoming nun, Mother Moraczewska. Her approach was completely different, very warm and friendly. When Helena asked her about the possibility of joining the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Mother Moraczewska said to her: ‘It is not up to me. Someone else will have to make that decision. You have to go and ask the Master of the House’. I wonder if Helena realized from the very beginning who ‘the Master of the house’ was. She must have been very confused in that new place. Mother Moraczewska explained to her that she should go to the chapel, which is on the first floor of the building. Helena went upstairs and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and asked whispering: ‘Master of this house, do you accept me?’ And then she heard the answer: ‘Yes, I accept you, you are in my heart’. Happy and very excited Helena immediately returned to Mother Moraczewska, who curiously asked her what the answer was.

  • ‘Jesus told me that He accepted me, and moreover, He said that I was very much in His heart’.
  • ‘Since He has accepted you, I must accept you here as well’.

After many years, those sisters who did not want to accept Sister Faustina probably regretted their decision, because if they had accepted her, they would be very honoured to have the image of Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy chaplet and would certainly have had many more vocations.

But let’s go back to Sister Faustina. After staying for three weeks in the convent where she was finally accepted, Sister Faustina very quickly experienced many disappointments, because so far, she imagined life in the convent completely differently. She encountered a completely different reality than she had imagined. After a long reflection and after several weeks of internal struggles, she made the decision to leave the congregation of the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Thank God, at this stage Faustina once again experienced God’s guidance and providence, and we can say that she was very fortunate yet again, because before she went to her superiors to tell them that she wanted to leave, she went to the chapel to pray and talk to Jesus. And then Jesus said to her: ‘I want you to stay here, not somewhere else, and as I promised you before, I have prepared many graces for you and for the whole world through you’. If Faustina had asked people first, and not God, we may not have had the Divine Mercy chaplet, we may not have had an image with the inscription ‘Jesus, I trust in you’, and we may not have had Divine Mercy Sunday.

Let us ask what the most important message of the third Sunday of Easter is. There are many messages but, one of the most important is: ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men’. What does that mean for us personally? Before each decision we make, and especially before all the most important decisions in our lives, it is worthwhile to first turn to God in humble prayer, and only then ask or take advice from wise people. I am sure that this one sentence from today’s first reading and this wonderful example of Saint Peter, which we find in today’s first reading, but above all his courageous attitude towards the high priest and many others who witnessed this scene, can be very helpful, useful and inspiring in our daily life and in our journey of faith.

Fr Gregory