The Corporal Works of Mercy

On December 8th, the Church will begin the Year of Mercy.  In the Pope’s letter to the Church, Misericordiae Vultus, he reminds us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy and through Jesus Christ Mercy is living and visible in Jesus.  Today we continue the weekly series on Mercy by looking at the corporal works of mercy.

“Find us ready, Lord, not standing still.  Find us working and loving and doing your will.  Find us ready, Lord, faithful in love, building the kingdom that’s here and above, building the kingdom of mercy and love.” – Find Us Ready, Tom Booth, OCP Publications

This past Sunday Marisa and I changed things up a little bit.  We went to the six o’clock mass rather than our normal 10 am Mass.  That is where we heard the song above, Find Us Ready, and it fits so nicely with this week theme.  Previously we discussed how we can receive mercy, how we can get spiritually be feed through the sacraments and scripture to understand and receive mercy.  Now, it is important for us to take that mercy we have learned about and share it with others.

During this time of Advent we are preparing for the coming of the Lord, both his first coming represented by Christmas and his second coming.  Tom Booth’s song reminds us what we are called to do, we need to build the kingdom of mercy and love.  Jesus tells us how we can do that very thing.

Christ separating the Goat from the Sheep in a Mosaic at Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Italy.

In his parable of The Sheep and the Goats, found in Matthew 25:31-46, we are introduced to the corporal works of mercy.  In the parable we find out that we are called to 1) feed the hungry, 2) give drink to the thirsty, 3) clothe the naked, 4) shelter the homeless, 5) visit those in prison, 6) comfort the sick, and 7) bury the dead (this one is found in the Book of Tobit). The importance of these corporal works is indescribable.

The best I can do in describing the importance of these works is to share my personal experience with the works. The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world.  It is through the Church that many are able to be fed, clothed, sheltered, and given medical care.  There are countless numbers of people throughout the world that are shown mercy and the love of Christ through the actions of Catholics.  In a world torn by original sin, manifested in war, terrorism, and malice the corporal works of mercy brings a light of hope, love, and mercy to the world.

The corporal works of mercy have greatly affected me personally. Not to go into too much detail in this article I can tell you that through the works I have grown to see my fellow man in a more merciful way.  In seeing the hardships of this world and walking with those people experiencing those hardships I have grown in mercy in my day to day life.  In addition I have grown spiritually, in that I understand the blessings God has provided me and mercy he has shown me.


Bl. Mother Teresa

During this Year of Mercy I suggest that you find ways that you can incorporate the Works of Mercy in your daily lives.  Gather your family or your ministry together and discuss how you as a family/group can work to build the kingdom of mercy, through the corporal works of mercy. I would also suggest taking some time to learn about Blessed Mother Theresa. She is a great example of someone that worked to build the kingdom. In the coming weeks I will discuss each work of mercy on its own and in more detail.  Next week we will discuss Feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty.


The featured image is of Frans II Francken: The Seven Works of Mercy.


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