Columbus Deanery Council of Catholic Women
Columbus, Georgia 31909
Phone: (706) 565-7399
SDCCW Spirituality Commission Chair: Dr. Eleanor Willingham
The Spirituality Commission reinforces faith and supports service to the Church and to the world through discipleship and spiritual growth; and encourages legislative advocacy at the local, state, and national levels, guided by Catholic social teaching.
Welcome to the vineyard
doing “works of mercy”.
In this edition of the Vine, we will take a look at what mercy means, and then how our corporal and spiritual works of mercy flow from mercy itself: God’s grace in our lives.
As Catholics, we share many things that make up our faith with all people of goodwill everywhere. But the works of mercy are especially unique to our work as Christian women.
First, looking closely at the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), we see that the story of our salvation is completely in
the key of mercy.
Why does Jesus tell this parable? In Luke, we find Jesus has just given the commandment to love (to love God, our neighbor and
ourselves). Then he was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then tells the parable.
A close reading of it gives a very surprising answer to the question. Are we not thinking that the answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” will be the man lying wounded along the road? But it is not. The answer is the Samaritan. The neighbor is the one who shows mercy.
Primarily, the parable of the Good Samaritan was preached on two levels: first, what Christ accom-plishes for us; then, what we ought to do for others. The natural law that enjoins mercy is based therefore, on the principle that we are to do to others as we would have them do to us.
Christ set forth a divine command and supreme penalty for failure to comply. Matthew 25:41 says Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me . . . For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you covered me not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me",
Along comes the Samaritan (Christ) who tends to Adam’s wounds, takes him to the inn (the Church), gives a down payment (his life)
for Adam’s healing (our salvation), and promises to return for him to pay in full the cost (our redemption) and take him to where he dwells (the Kingdom).
By this understanding, then, the parable is less a story about how we should treat others than it is the story of what Christ has done for us. We are called to follow the actions of the Good Samaritan because it is a retelling of the entire gospel. In it, we are called to go and do likewise. The parable therefore, serves as the foundational explanation of Jesus’ commandment to love.
Our first understanding of mercy comes from the the early life of the Christian community. Christians heard the divine call to practice mercy. John never tires of recommending it (1 John 4:20-21, Luke tells us how deacons are appointed to serve the most marginalized (Acts 6:1-6). Paul writes to Timothy about the selection of widows who, like the deacons, are to serve those in need (1Timothy 5:9-10). Collectively and institutionally the Church of the apostles promotes the service of mercy. In our obedience to God and to the church so do our Councils of Catholic Women! AMEN.
The Corporal Works of Mercy:
The Works of Mercy or Acts of Mercy are actions and practices which Christianity, in general, expects all believers to perform. The practice is commonly attributed to the Roman Catholic Church as an act of both penance and charity.
Corporal Works of Mercy are those that tend to bodily needs of others. They are as
feeding the hungry
giving drink to the thirsty
clothing the naked
offering hospitality to the
caring for the sick
visiting the imprisoned
burying the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering.
They are as follows:
admonishing the sinner
instructing the ignorant
counseling the doubtful
comforting the sorrowful
bearing wrongs patiently
forgiving all injuries
praying for the living and
Mercy, as we see is showing kindness, compassion, forgiveness, clemency, forbearance, and relieving suffering. Both works express mercy, and are expected to be performed by believers as they are able, and in accordance with the Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Gospel of Matthew 5:7). They are also required as a matter of obedience to the second of the two greatest commandments. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:35-40).
Let’s love each other and continually show mercy to our neighbors. After all, we are neighbors too!