Mercy Minutes #30

place-of-hope-576x356From Section V: A Year of Mercy

The church’s ancient tradition identifies seven corporal or bodily works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger/shelter the homeless, visit/heal the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead; and seven spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear wrongs patiently and pray for the living and the dead.
Together these constitute a beautiful and powerful image of the life of mercy and the Christian life generally. These two sets of actions focus our attention on particular, concrete things we can do to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our neighbor. And who is our neighbor? This of course is precisely the question Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan in which he shows that our neighbor is whoever we meet who needs our care. Mercy and our acts of mercy are not limited to people in the Church or those who think and believe like we do. The command is to be merciful to any and all. We also learned from the Good Samaritan that mercy is not merely a feeling or sentiment. It must be made real in our concrete, particular actions to meet the actual needs of actual people. The works of mercy do exactly that, meeting the actual needs of our neighbors.