The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) proclaims that God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them [the poor].
As Catholics, God expects us to take care of the poor and the vulnerable. In fact, during the times of the Old Testament, or before the coming of Christ, the people of God, more often than not, were sinful not by their unfaithfulness to God but by not taking care of those suffering from material or spiritual poverty. Taking care of the poor and the vulnerable is important, and we saw in the previous confirmation lesson the spiritual works of mercy, which were the ways in which we could care for those in an intangible way. What this confirmation lesson will focus on are the tangibles.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are:
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Visit the imprisoned
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Bury the dead
The central theme surrounding the corporal works of mercy is encountering Christ in the material poverty of others.
Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Jesus is speaking literally here. Whenever we serve those suffering from spiritual or physical poverty, we are serving Jesus Christ, the son of God, Himself. How important this is!
When we show others mercy through either providing for their material or even spiritual needs, we are revealing the love of God to others. Some people may want to do amazing things when they are older, like owning an orphanage or a sheep farm to help clothe the poor. But the even more amazing thing is that we do not have to do great things like that to show Christ’s mercy and love to people.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, also known as Mother Teresa, tells us that we can do small things with great love. We can love people in our homes, in our schools, in our streets, or in our neighborhoods when we provide for their material needs. While it might seem insignificant to cook a meal for your neighbor or classmate, it is one more drop in the ocean that would otherwise be missing, and plus, you are loving Jesus himself when you do.