Celebrating the Year of Mercy!
“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”
With these words, Pope Francis has asked us to reflect on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. For our reference, here are the lists.
Corporal Works of Mercy Spiritual Works of Mercy
(1) Feed the hungry. (1) Admonish sinners.
(2) Give drink to the thirsty. (2) Instruct the uninformed.
(3) Clothe the naked. (3) Counsel the doubtful.
(4) Shelter the homeless. (4) Comfort the sorrowful.
(5) Visit those in prison. (5) Be patient with those in error.
(6) Comfort the sick. (6) Forgive offenses.
(7) Bury the dead. (7) Pray for the living and the dead.
Yet, lists are always dangerous. On the one hand, we can enjoy the process of memorizing the lists without any impact on our lives. On the other, we can see the lists as another group of things to get done or feel guilty about not getting done. These are not the intention of either of these lists.
Lists in the Catholic Church follow after a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To be in a loving relationship with Christ and to live our lives out of that love, is the only reason why any list makes sense. I often hear couples joke about “Honey do lists” and what happens when “honeys don’t.” Married couples can give each other lists because their love for one another is presumed.
Do we know and feel the love of Christ? I recognize this is not “normal” Catholic language, but it is the basis of everything the Catholic Church teaches. The love of Christ is presumed when lists are given. I think the presumption of knowing and feeling Christ’s love is not a presumption we can make any longer. We have to “rediscover Jesus,” share our discovery with one another, and live in Jesus’ love.
When we know and experience that love, we look upon the lists above not as something God wants from us but as ways for us to share Jesus’ love with others.
Do we ever take our loved ones for granted and just give them a list? I am afraid we have done that in our Catholic family as well. How can we help one another rediscover the love Jesus has for us?
Sincerely Christ, Fr David