Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Works of Mercy

These works, it is believed, express mercy, and are thus expected to be performed by believers insofar as they are able in accordance with the Beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). These acts are to keep the two greatest commandments:
"I am the Lord your God and you shall not have strange gods before me.' This is the greatest and the first commandment.
And, the second is also like the first one, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'"
Corporal works of mercy are those that tend to bodily needs.
  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the Homeless
  5. Visit the imprisoned
  6. Visit the sick
  7. Bury the dead

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) enumerates such acts -- though not this precise list -- as the reason for the salvation of the saved, and the omission of them as the reason for damnation. The last work of mercy, burying the dead, comes from the Book of Tobit.

Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ’Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?’ And the king will answer them, ’Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’”
The spiritual acts of mercy provide for the needs of the spirit.
  1. Instruct the ignorant
  2. Counsel the doubtful
  3. Admonish the sinner
  4. Bear wrongs patiently
  5. Forgive offenses willingly
  6. Comfort the sorrowful
  7. Pray for the living and the dead

Our EfM group considered the task of being Christ's hands in the contemporary world and added this list:

Works of Mercy, Contemporary Additions

  1. Build self/community sufficiency
    · Assist to discern needs of community
    · Teach/train members in needed skills
    · Provide needed resources
  2. Permanent housing, Habitat for Humanity’s approach
  3. Peace Building
  4. Eliminate corruption
  5. Preservation of environment
  6. Care for animals

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