Tuesday, 19 April 2016



Peter and I have now concluded our reflections on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. To summarise, I will  see how we can express them in daily family life. In many ways they are equally applicable to Dominican community life.

In this year of Mercy Pope Francis has gone so far as to proclaim that Mercy is the very Face of God. We people, who have been made in God’s own image and likeness, must reflect His mercy in our own lives.

It is in the family that we first learn to do so. Through what are known as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy we share in God’s compassion for those who are in physical, emotional and spiritual need and pain. No matter what our age or ability family life provides most of us with the most immediate opportunities for sharing God’s compassion through the Works of Mercy.

Even in the most loving of families we do sometimes hurt each other. We’re so close we sometimes tread on each other’s toes –hopefully accidentally. When under pressure, we sometimes explode. We say and do things, which hurt those closest to us. If so, God expects us to apologise for the pain we have caused, and forgive those who have harmed us. The balm of merciful healing is essential to family life, if it’s not only to survive but also to flourish. Without the resilience of mercy family life will be so brittle it will fall apart.
But in addition to being forgiving God expects us to be His voice in comforting, encouraging and teaching. Through our hands He heals the sick, clothes the naked and feeds the hungry. In our daily lives we’re called to be instruments of God’s Works of Mercy. Such activities cause us to reach out unselfishly to others in their need. We are called to be generous givers of ourselves, rather than selfish grabbers for ourselves!

The family has been called the ‘Domestic Church.’ The home provides wonderful opportunities for each member of the family to learn to show the practical love and compassion of the Works of Mercy. We can all give a helping hand when there’s so much to be done around the house. We can all show an interest in how husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister has spent the day…congratulating and commiserating. This calls for loving sensitivity and compassion… enjoying having time for each other, time to be with each other.

Sometimes we will have to care for a sick member of the family. There will be times when we will need to draw close and comfort each other –when there’s a death in the family. There will be other times when we can show our love for the family by doing some of the more unpleasant task in the home –cleaning up someone’s vomit or the cat’s mess. These are but a few examples of real, practical ways of expressing our love and care for each other.

Love for our nearest and dearest should come naturally. But God knows, and we know, that doesn’t always come easily! But when we do see them as our brothers and sisters in God’s family, when we do see Christ identifying with them in their need –then our natural human response shares in God’s own infinite love and compassion. What seems trivial and transitory assumes an eternal value. What a thought! We have become God’s channels and ministers of mercy!

One of the greatest needs is for us to make quality time for each other. Time to enjoy each other’s company, to listen to each other’s joys and sorrows. We should try not to allow anyone to feel neglected and lonely. And yet we can become so absorbed in electronic gadgetry –in computer games or TV programs, our mobiles, that we literally have no time for each other. Sadly, we can spend more time chatting to a friend on our mobiles than with members of our family living under the same roof! Such indifference can spell the death of family life!

Learning to be compassionate and considerate in the home should inspire us to respond to the needs of those in the ‘outside world’ -the work place, school, or playground, people suffering severe hardship in distant lands. Pope Francis sees a desperate need for us to overcome the modern evil of what he calls, ‘globalized indifference’ to the needs and feelings of others.

So, let us resolve to undermine this ‘globalized indifference’ by showing a greater compassionate care for each other. Let us start in the home and reach out to the world through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy! They are meant to provide a programme for action, not just a subject for pious reflection.
Let us pray

Heavenly Father, may our reflections on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy make us more sensitive to people’s needs and to their dignity as your children.
May we first learn to show your compassion in our homes and communities, and may that radiate out to the world beyond.
Help us to become a more caring and compassionate society, reacting against the culture of self-centred ‘globalized indifference.’
May we be your true sons and daughters, reflecting your Face of Mercy. Above all, may we be doers of your word, and not just hearers.
We ask this through your Son, Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and the whole world.

Isidore Clarke O.P. 
Thank you for reading our reflections on the Works of Mercy.  Now that we've finished the series we would  welcome your reactions. 
May God bless you
Peter and Isidore Clarke O.P.

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