Works of Mercy
Can you think of a time when someone did something kind or helpful for you? Maybe they paid for a meal when you were short-changed or made you chicken noodle soup when you were sick. Perhaps it was offering prayers for you or a loved one in a difficult season of life. The smallest, simplest gestures can have profound effects. As followers of Christ, we are called to serve those in need. But it isn’t always easy to serve others, especially when the people that we serve don’t seem to appreciate our help or reciprocate with any kindness themselves. Of course, we aren’t
called to serve others when it is easy or even when it makes us feel good about ourselves.
Christ gave of himself even though we didn’t earn it or deserve it. When that truth dwells in our hearts, “love can also blossom as a response within us” (Deus caritas est, no. 17). When you have experienced the grace of God, you want to show the grace of God. When you have received mercy, you desire to extend mercy. We can look to Christ as our perfect example. He nurtured people spiritually and healed them physically. He didn’t just do it for those that he knew would reciprocate the gesture. He didn’t reserve his grace for only those who would follow him as a disciple. His mercy didn’t discriminate. As St. Paul reminds us, “for Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
There are countless ways in which we can help others. However, the Church has given us seven ways in which we can assist others’ physical needs and seven more ways to address spiritual needs. “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, and 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” (CCC 2447). The Eucharist is a sacrament of charity. In fact, the Church teaches us that reception of the Blessed Sacrament commits us to the poor (CCC 1397).
As our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament increases, so will our desire to serve others. Whether you are called to help others spiritually or corporally, in big ways or small ways, believe that God will bless others through you. Jesus continues to give us his very best; we are called to follow suit. Today, let us be mindful of those around us and the opportunity we have to meet them in their needs.
Lord, thank you for the gift of today. As you have loved us, let us now do the same for others. We pray that we may be given the opportunity to be your hands and feet in this world. When it is difficult, grant us the grace to pour ourselves out for others, just as you have done for us. May your Holy Spirit give us the strength needed to serve those in our path. Amen.
Choose one Corporal Work of Mercy and one Spiritual Work of Mercy that you can perform today. You can reference paragraphs 2447 and 2448 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for more information on the Works of Mercy.