“Nothing graces the Christian soul so much as mercy; mercy as shown chiefly towards the poor, that thou mayest treat them as sharers in common with thee in the produce of nature, which brings forth the fruits of the earth for use to all.”
~ Saint Ambrose
We hear, quite often, that we are supposed to be busy living the faith and that the best way to do so is by performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The other week, we discussed the corporal works of mercy. Today, we briefly reflect upon the spiritual works of mercy.
- Instruct the ignorant. We are to instruct others in the faith. That means that we must first inform ourselves as to the teaching of the faith so that we can help form others. Being called to instruct does not just mean teaching facts. It also means dispelling falsehood and correcting the errant.
- Counsel the doubtful. Everyone’s faith is tested at one time or another. For some, when their faith is tested, they are not strong enough and they begin to doubt. Their doubt can overwhelm them if they are not aided by others who are strong in the faith. That is where we come in.
- Admonish the sinner. No one likes to be corrected. No one. However, if we are not corrected, we can become harmed. Sometimes, that harm can be tragic, even deadly. We should never admonish a sinner in an “I told you so” manner or in a way that makes the sinner feel that he or she is being judged. However, we need to be able to correct the sinner so that the person can get his or her life back on track with God.
- Bear wrongs patiently. As much as we hate to be corrected, we hate, even more, to be wronged. The immediate, human, impulse is to seek revenge and retribution. That helps no one. If we patiently endure wrongs and hardship, any one of us can become a brilliant example of a faith-filled person.
- Forgive offenses willingly. Not only are we called to bear wrongs patiently; but, we are also challenged to forgive perfectly. One of the hardest lessons in the Gospel came after Jesus was asked how often one must forgive, “Seven times?” His response was, “No. I say seventy times seven times.” In other words, always.
- Comfort the afflicted. When we endure wrongs patiently and endure trials (physical, mental, or spiritual) as well, we can more fully understand what others go through when they are afflicted. Coming to the aid of someone who is hurting is just what Jesus would want us to do. It shows others the compassionate love of God.
- Pray for the living and the dead. As young children, we already heard that prayer is a powerful means of grace and a powerful weapon against sin. When we pray for the living and the dead, we commend others to God and ask God to give people the grace that they need. If we are serious about praying for others, we also have a confidence that others are just as serious about praying for us. Prayer is always a win-win situation.
FAITH ACTION: Be a willing, loving, cheerful example of mercy today.
Remember that Friday of Lent are Days of Abstinence