The Church teaches that . . . Works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are the spiritual works of mercy. as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God. (Catechism, 2447, p. 588)Many are dubious as to whether God himself is as merciful as he would like us to be, considering the natural cataclysms, or the crime, greed, and terrifying violence his creatures perpetuate on this small planet. Come to think of it, the fact that we haven’t destroyed ourselves by now, having been around for about 250,000 years or so, may be proof enough of the mercy of God.
The question becomes: If God is love, how do I know that he knows me, sees me and loves me personally. If we have any sense of humility at all it’s hard to imagine our selves within the purview of the Creator of all things, or what’s more, getting his personal attention and direction.
Is there anyone who is so introverted that he or she cannot recognize the power of the Deity in every created thing; or conversely, so extroverted that he or she does not respond to the obvious signs of true meaning dwelling in them?
Is being moved by the great beauty that surrounds us, (regardless of the carelessness with which some treat others and the environment) just a useless aberration? Is standing in awe before the firmament and pondering it’s formation wasted time?
Isn’t the inner drive to succeed at something simply for the goodness of it rather than for self aggrandizement an expression of a purposefulness connected to living?
Mercy is an attribute of goodness. Since the Ultimate Good appears to be beyond our comprehension, mercy is channeled from the source of what is All Good, through the goodness in us to those who are in more need than we are. We understand their needs both because of the good dwelling in us, and by acknowledging our own neediness. (compassion)
An act of mercy is an act of the Spirit of God in us – through us!
Mercy is a symbiotic act; what appears as a need in others resonates in us because we are all related to one another as human beings; we are dependent on each other. In serving another in need we are serving the Greater Good from whom all good things come, and serving the “common good” of which we are an individual part. Can we have mercy without God, without a central source of goodness?
Ethics is Moral Philosophy. It can engender self styled mercy, but it can be argued that its origin is not the individual. If the well spring of goodness is socially derived who or what is its originator. What selfish gene thought twice and changed its mind? What atmospheric condition persisted to have it establish giving instead of just getting?
Though everything is made of the stars by the Word of God, only humanity was graced by the image of Love itself. True freedom is ours to be used in the interest of the Love that granted it. To do otherwise is to chance eternal death. To have done otherwise, places us only and directly at the mercy of God. Jesus, the Christ, perfectly pointed out that transgressions against the Spirit mandates an eternal sentence – justifiably. We have all been called to channel the Good! Isn’t that one of the beatitudes?
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem offered:
“We are anointed with the Spirit.”
St. Augustine, no slouch to earthly propensities, speaks to us sincerely when he says:
“I have learned to love you late, Beauty at once so ancient and so new!. . . You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself . . . We could never understand that one thing is better than another, if a basic understanding of the good had not already been installed in us.”
St. Paul adds:
“There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it’s the same God who is working in all of them.”
Although institutionalized charity can accomplish much for the least fortunate members of our earthly family, there is no substitute for personal acts of mercy out of a genuine sense of the love of the Good Itself; certainly not for personal recognition.
The Giver is the Gift; we are mere instruments of a continuous expansion of love from the source of all love, depending on our commitment to Love, even when it hurts.
Divine Mercy Sunday, (Second Sunday of Easter)