For the past several weeks, we have been reflecting on what it means to be "Merciful like the Father." This week, we will finally start to reflect on practical ways that we can imitate God's mercy and be a channel of it for others.
During Pope Francis' Bull of Indiction, he encouraged everyone to focus on the "corporal and spiritual works of mercy" during this Jubilee Year. He said:
It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples (15, emphasis added).
Pope Francis goes on to remind us that Jesus used these works of mercy as criteria for our admittance into the Heavenly Kingdom:
We cannot escape the Lord’s words to us, and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged: whether we have fed the hungry and given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger and clothed the naked, or spent time with the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-45). Moreover, we will be asked if we have helped others to escape the doubt that causes them to fall into despair and which is often a source of loneliness; if we have helped to overcome the ignorance in which millions of people live...Let us not forget the words of Saint John of the Cross: “as we prepare to leave this life, we will be judged on the basis of love” (15, emphasis added).
Therefore, it is vital that we reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and examine our lives to see if we are living up to Christ's commands.
So what are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy?
Corporal Works of Mercy
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.
However, for most of us just making a list of the works of mercy doesn't help. We still don't know how to practice the works of mercy and live them out.
That is our task for the next few weeks. We will take a look at these works of mercy and reflect on ways that we can practice them in everyday life.
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