With the Fourth of July behind us Summer is now in full swing. The Cathedral has had a steady stream of visitors and tourists coming through her doors. The Door of Mercy continues to be a destination in people’s pilgrimages to our great cathedral. It has been very refreshing and inspiring for me to see the great faith that people bring to this Holy Door and it is a continuing reminder of the gift that Pope Francis has given us.
Once again this weekend we are reminded of the role that Mercy has to play in our lives. Jesus gives us a powerful parable on how the Christian is to act; the Christian is to show mercy. That is what defines who the neighbor is. The neighbor is the one who showed mercy to the man who fell on hard times. The neighbor doesn’t walk by, the neighbor doesn’t turn his head, the neighbor acts. The neighbor acts in love.
This command to act in love is given to us in this week’s gospel, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” The love that we are to share with our neighbor is second only to the love we are to give to God. The love that we are to share with our neighbor is expressed in works of mercy. These works of mercy are freely given, not out of duty, but out of love. The works of mercy are traditionally broken down into corporal works of mercy and spiritual works of mercy.
The corporal works of mercy include:
To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To shelter the homeless
To visit the sick
To visit the imprisoned
To bury the dead
These are the works that we typically think of when we think of works of mercy. This list includes all of the varied ways that people attend to the health and well-being of those around them and they are important. However, they are not the only way that we are called to share the love of God with our neighbor.
The good neighbor shows care for spiritual health as well through the spiritual works of mercy. The spiritual works of mercy include:
To convert the sinner
To instruct the ignorant
To counsel the doubtful
To comfort the sorrowful
To bear wrongs patiently
To forgive injuries
To pray for the living and the dead
The spiritual works of mercy are harder to see. The spiritual works of mercy are harder to raise awareness for, but they are just as necessary for the salvation of all involved.
This summer, let us follow the example of the Good Samaritan by sharing the love and mercy of God with our neighbors providing for the needs of their bodies and their souls as well.
Fr. Grant Lacey