From Fr. Martin
The Corporal and Spiritual Works of mercy are clearly rooted in the Word of God. Sacred Scripture has much to say on living the moral life. The New Testament develops and deepens that message. The Gospels, especially the words of Jesus, bring the message to new heights as He teaches us ‘Kingdom Values for Resurrection Living’.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are almost exactly taken from the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew. There Jesus reveals to us that feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and housing the homeless are ministering to Jesus Himself. That’s six of the seven Corporal Works of mercy taken from one Gospel parable of Jesus !
As we feed people who are hungry and practice the other Corporal Works of Mercy, the dignity of those we serve is also very important to us. We minister to people in need with love and humility, always striving to affirm their dignity
Both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of mercy must be understood and lived with love and discernment, sensitivity and balance. They must be lived with a sensitivity and discernment so to remove even a hint of self-righteousness or judgment, condescension or pride. All the Works of Mercy flow from a humble heart.
Admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, and comforting the sorrowful obviously require a discretion and tact that only humility can produce. We can not approach someone and say, “Repent you sinner !” Or tell someone s/he is ignorant and in need of instruction. But we can set a good example for them. We can share what Jesus has done for us in our lives. We can shine the light of Jesus and lead people to Him and away from sin by our good example. And we must never forget that we’re all sinners. We’re all in need of God’s love and mercy. And we’re all called to open our hearts and forgive.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” A great way to do this is to live Jesus’ advice, “ So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12