Presence as Work of Mercy

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (27 February 2016)

During Lent we’re often exhorted to give alms. That’s a little problematic sometimes if we see the giving of alms as purely giving money. What if we don’t have enough for ourselves? What should we do? If we see the giving of alms as part of the corporal works of mercy, then we might have a broader understanding of what we need to do during Lent. The corporal works of mercy come from Matthew 25 and the description of the last judgement. If we look at the similarities among these works of mercy, we see that presence and accompaniment lie at the heart of such works of mercy. Reaching out to others is important.

The Corporal Works of Mercy. Save and print if you’d like to use this as a colouring page!

The Holy Father, in a recent homily, stated that “Faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit.” Works of mercy are all about trying to find a concrete expression of our faith in our daily lives – we don’t necessarily have to go out of our way to help others (though that can be nice too!) but we do have to try to find real ways of bringing God’s mercy to others. Prayer leads into this as it strengthens our will to reach out to others and to help our neighbours in body and spirit.
When we do so, we realise that we are present to others. I learned what it meant to be present to others during the early years of my formation as I was sent to accompany residents in a nursing home and hospice. Quite often, there was less to do than just to be with and accompany the residents. When we’re asked to visit the sick and those in prison or to help to accompany those who mourn, we spend time with them, reminding others of our shared humanity and realising that we’re all humans and creations of God together.
We see this in our Blessed Mother to, especially in her visitation of her cousin Elizabeth. Though she was already pregnant, Mary went to visit her cousin to be present to the latter in her pregnancy. It might have been difficult for Elizabeth in the latter half of her pregnancy and perhaps she needed the accompaniment during those times. Why? Sometimes we just need a person to be with us, not for any other reason but to have company. That’s the main thrust of the corporal works of mercy – to get out to be with others. This helps us to spread God’s love and mercy to others because we then become conduits for that same mercy of God.
The Holy Father reminds us that the root of all sin is in thinking that we can be gods ourselves. We get so preoccupied with ourselves and in the gaining of riches and power that we cannot see beyond the tips of our noses. Works of mercy can help us to realise that there’s a world beyond us and to see God in others as we seek to serve them. And most importantly, we see others as fellow creations who are created and beloved by God. The apparent lack of this means that our going out to accompany others with God’s love and mercy is all the more urgent in this day and age. Let’s do that this Lent, and bring love and mercy to all whom we meet.
Corporal Works of Mercy: A Prayer
Lord, help me be your mercy,
that I may feed the hungry,
to the thirsty bring refreshment,
to the unclothed their raiment.
Come with me to those who ail,
and also as we visit some in jail.
Help us give the homeless reprieve,
and comfort all those who grieve.
Most of all, help me as I seek to serve,
that I may always bring them your love.

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about the brushhead

had a head like a brush (it's more like an egg now). seeks to sweep through thought and faith with that brush. tries to wax philosophical but often forgets to wax off. trying to be good brush to all, while discerning what kind of brush he's meant to be.

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