Thursday, 25 February 2016


He’d come home from work, tired. You might say ‘stressed-out.’ He didn’t simply sit down on an easy chair. He collapsed into it. As usual she brewed him a cup of tea. As usual she all-but slammed it onto the table beside him. As usual, he gave her a feeble grunt of acknowledgement. She had done one of the Corporal Works of Mercy – hadn’t she? No way! There was nothing of the ‘rider’ –‘as often as you did this…you did it to me!’ Never, would she have treated Jesus in this rough, offensive way.
And Jesus would never have used such insulting rudeness when receiving even the most grudging kindness !
In composing our meditations on the Corporal Works of Mercy we have become convinced that they are about far more than meeting the physical needs of a human body -- nourishment, clothing, healing, housing.
Works of Mercy must be about one person helping another – with compassion, sensitivity, respect, love. . . a wholesome reaching out to the wholeness of another person. Each is ennobled with a God-given dignity -both the giver and receiver of merciful kindness.
We would hope that the one who receives kindly consideration would show a friendly gratitude. In doing any of the Works of Mercy our attitude should be, 'I'm doing this for you because I know God wants me to. You're precious to me because you're precious to God.' It's all about our having a Christ-like attitudes towards people.
This kindles a closeness to them, a reverence for them. Our deep awareness of the loving kindness of our God, as expressed through the caring ministry of Jesus, should condition us to have an interest in people, to care about them, have time for them, and even to take care of them. We must never let ourselves become like the grumpy woman who had given her husband a cup of tea but nothing of herself - no warmth of love or friendship.

It was for him to drink it– It was none the sweeter to him, because he had received from her! Nowadays, we have so many ways of short-cutting acts of kindness... the 'remote mentality' of recruiting someone to deliver our generosity so as to save us the trouble of taking it ourselves. Providing a service can easily become more important to us than being a face to face friend, who offers a warm embrace and engages in some cheerful chatter!

Surely the purpose of our reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy has been that all of us should have become more sensitive, more responsive to the physical needs that people have. We should have been inspired to do more for others, to love them more and to treat them with greater consideration and respect.

We all have the privilege, the dignity, of being Ambassadors for Jesus, the Divine Physician, the Good Shepherd. We represent Him. He makes Himself present to us and through us. Jesus wants us to be the channels of His loving mercy. Such is our glorious vocation as followers of Jesus.


These reflections on the Corporal Works of Mercy have drawn their inspiration from the teaching of Jesus on the Last Judgement (Matt. 25). He intends that we should realize that our Christian Spirituality, our Eternal Salvation, stands or falls on whether we are or are not merciful to those in need.

We owe it to ourselves that we should hear these words,

"Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world," rather than, "Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

P.S. Look out for our reflections on the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy.

 Please pray for us - this project is not easy!

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