Many years ago when the Baltimore Catechism contained the answers to all questions regarding religion, we recited the spiritual and corporal works of mercy without much understanding of their meaning and implications in our lives.
As I advanced in wisdom and age, I became more aware of just how much they were a part of my everyday life since childhood. It was customary in our family to visit the sick and shut-ins at the county home in our town and to entertain them with our music. A beggar never left our door without being fed and refreshed. And I could go on. The works of mercy were a given at any time and place.
When I became a teacher, the works of mercy took on a whole new world of meaning. Besides further incorporating them into my own life, I could share with children of all ages – from kindergarten to college – the concept of relationship with all God’s creation, through all sorts of activities.
Today, as we celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the works of mercy take on a broader and more practical meaning. Joe Paprocki, DMin., defines the works of mercy as “kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their everyday material and physical needs as well as their spiritual and emotional needs.”
At the age 93, I feel blessed to see mercy from another perspective. Celebrating this Year of Mercy is an invitation to live a life full of love, kindness and unbounded generosity; an invitation to encounter the incredible mercy of God and in so doing, to encounter God himself.
What was once simply words on a page in a little book, has been translated into a Gospel way of life. May mercy too, become your way of life.