by Bill Scholl
One of the key initiatives of the archdiocesan mutually shared vision for the next 10 years is to “cultivate relationships by engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”
It is so providential then, that the pope has called for a jubilee Year of Mercy that is starting this Dec. 8. In response to these calls, the archdiocese plans to educate Catholics on the works of mercy. In particular, we are going to invite Catholic individuals and families to make a pledge at Mass on Dec. 5-6 to regularly engage in one or more of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy during the jubilee Year of Mercy.
But why is it so important to make the corporal and spiritual works of mercy a part of your faith life?
There is no reason to fail the exam of your final judgment.
God has given us the questions and answers to the final exam: How specifically did you show mercy? It is important we prepare for this test.
The works of mercy are a checklist to help us make sure we are on track. Just as a pilot has a checklist before landing, so, too, does Christ.
So just exactly how are you going to answer Jesus when he asks, “What did you do for the least of my brothers and sisters?”
Works of mercy are the completion of your Communion.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta talked about her mercy ministry to the poor in terms of “the second Real Presence.” Just as Christ is really present in the Eucharist, he is also present in “the least of these.” So when we receive Christ in Communion, we are empowered to go out and return that loving mercy to Christ in those who are in distress — physically and spiritually.
Jesus loves us so much that he gives us a chance to love him back, and to do so heroically. This is why Pope Benedict XVI taught that “a Eucharist that does not pass into concrete acts of love is intrinsically fragmented.”
You are commissioned to be an agent of God’s love.
We are born and live in the need for God’s mercy. Christ teaches us that we get to make the grading curve for “the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” However, more importantly, God gives us the power to be like him, and his mercy is his best attribute.
As a baptized Christian, we are charged with going out in the world to make Christ’s love visible, especially to one another.
On Dec. 5-6, Catholics will be asked to take their faith life to the next level by regularly engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Now is the time to prayerfully consider how to make works of mercy a greater part of your faith life.