So for some reason this week, I’ve been thinking about mercy.  It began when I was praying and realized the number of times the word mercy or the allusion to mercy was in my regular prayers.  So I began to ponder how merciful God is and how we need to show mercy in our own lives.

The definition of mercy, as stated by Webster is:

1. kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly

2. compassion showing to an offender or to one subject to one’s power

And although this is a stark, stripped down version of the definition of mercy, I can also see how it beautifully begins thoughts on God’s mercy.  We, as a sinful human people, are definitely offenders against the perfect love of God.  He did not create us to turn from him, to be unkind to others, or to be wrapped up in our own little worlds.  Yet, he shows us mercy – compassion to an offender, like us.  We are also certainly subject to His power.  Although he does not regularly rain down fire on us for our numerous sins (at least not since the Old Testament), He is all powerful and certainly could.  Yet He treats us with kindness and forgiveness even though He is completely within rights to treat us harshly.

God loves us so much that His mercy spilled out of heaven to become Jesus incarnate, walking the earth and dying on the cross to restore our relationship with our heavenly Father.  His mercy extends to us every day in answers to prayers or little blessings that we may not even realize.  We may not deserve his tenderness and goodness, but He wants to shower that mercy on us.

In our lives, how can we show mercy to others?  The Church teaches that there are Corporal works of mercy and Spiritual works of mercy.

The Corporal works of mercy are more of fulfilling human, bodily needs here on earth:

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirstymercy
  • Clothe the naked
  • Harbor the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Ransom the captive
  • Bury the dead

The Spiritual works of mercy are fulfilling the soul’s needs:

  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Admonish sinners
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive offenses willingly
  • Comfort the afflicted
  • Pray for the living and the dead

So what are some practical ways we can live these in our daily lives and show mercy to others?

  • Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty – donate to food drives
  • Clothe the naked – give your old clothes to charities
  • Harbor the homeless – volunteer at a soup kitchen or give of your resources to charities like Catholic Outreach or Food for the Poor
  • Visit the sick – check with your church to see who are sick and homebound
  • Ransom the captive – this is a toughy to do in our current day, but we can support charities that do this
  • Bury the dead – respect those who have passed away, attending services and supporting the family
  • Instruct the ignorant – teach Sunday school, be open to talking to others about our Catholic faith
  • Counsel the doubtful – support friends and loved ones; we all struggle with our faith sometimes
  • Admonish sinners – telling others that they aren’t following what God wants for their lives isn’t easy, but if done with love and many prayers, we are showing mercy
  • Bear wrongs patiently – when someone has hurt us or believes something wrong about us, we should try not to complain to others about our unjust treatment
  • Forgive offenses willingly – when people hurt us, we forgive them, even when it would be easier to just hold a grudge
  • Comfort the afflicted – listen to those who are struggling and offer advice when they ask for it
  • Pray for the living and the dead – pray unceasingly! Pray, pray, pray!May God’s mercy and compassion touch our lives and our hearts, transforming us to show God’s loving mercy to others every day!


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