Acting Mercifully

Corporal Works of Mercy

“…Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”

Matthew 25:31-46

The Corporal Works of Mercy provide a framework for answering the question  How can I be more merciful? These ideas are just starters to get us thinking and considering; How am I merciful like God?

Feed the Hungry



Although the world produces enough food there are many who go without.  In many countries, including New Zealand much food goes to waste.

Consider  how your own food habits and choices can benefit others who do not have as much.

  • Planning a special Christmas dinner ?  Donate to a Christmas food drive so everyone can have something to eat. Food banks appreciate treats as well as necessities. Named brands as well as store-brands.
  • Contribute to organizations that serve the hungry. This might be financial or time contributions.
  • Make a double batch of a meal easily frozen and donate it to one to a local food bank or soup kitchen.
  • Think about how you buy food and try not to purchase more than you are able to eat. Do you end up throwing good food away each week?  Consider purchasing less groceries and eliminating waste.  Money saved could be donatedto those in need.

Give drink to the thirsty



Water is a luxury commodity for many people of the world.  They  do not have access to clean water and suffer from the lack of this basic necessity.  Supporting the efforts of those working towards greater accessibility of this essential resource could be a powerful way to be merciful.

  • Don’t take water for granted especially the have access to clean water.
    • Learn … about the struggles people in our region of the world have to access water.
    • Donate. . . to help build wells for water for those in need.
  • Make an effort not to waste water. Remembering to turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes can help,
  • Have a home ‘water use audit’.  Consider how you as a family can use water wisely.  For example: how long do showers actually need to be?

Clothe the naked


Today we often refer to this Work of Mercy as Give Alms to the Poor.  It is about sharing what we have so that those in need are helped to retain their dignity and live life fully.

  • Support  organizations that have the ability to provide support and services for those in need.
  • Skip the morning coffee and put that money in the collection basket at church.
  • Find a charity that is meaningful to you and volunteer your time or donate.
  • Consider how often you eat out or buy take-away.   Pack you meals and donate the extra money to charities.
  • Do a wardrobe audit.  Do I really need 10 T-shirts? How many cardigans are required?…?…? Good clean clothing can be up-cycled though Vincent de Paul.  They may hand it on to someone who needs it or sell it to buy what others need

Shelter the homeless



The reason for someone rough sleeping are numerous.  No matter the reason we are called to affirm their worth and help them seek a resolution to the challenges they face.

  • When you see a homeless person or someone begging don’t ignore them, smile and say hello.
  • See if your parish or other community groups are involved with a local homeless shelter and volunteer some time.
  • Rough sleepers need warm blankets. If you can knit or sew that would be an extra loving gift. You might have spare blankets in the home that could be shared.
  • Today millions of people are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger and impossible living conditions, how can we help them?
    • Pray
    • Offer support to new displaced persons and refugees
    • Petition government to support these vulnerable people

Visit the sick


Being sick can mean great isolation and feelings of isolation  because people who are sick are often forgotten or avoided. Reach out.

  • Offer to go to the library, supermarket … for the housebound.
  • Give blood.
  • Spend time volunteering at a nursing home.
  • Take time on a Saturday to stop and visit with an elderly neighbor.
  • Offer to assist caregivers of chronically sick family members on a one-time or periodic basis. Give caregivers time off from their caregiving responsibilities so they can rest, complete personal chores, or enjoy a relaxing break.
  • Next time you make a meal that can be easily frozen, make a double batch and give it to a family in your parish who has a sick loved one.

Visit the imprisoned


No matter the crime people in prison are still made in the image and likeness of God.  We need to reach out to them and support them and their families.  Families of prisoners may not be in prison but they are often rejected because a member of the family is ‘inside’ or struggle financially.

  • Offer to help transport family members to prison or look after children so that parents can visit their partners in jail.
  • Find groups that have a prison ministry and get involved.
  • Volunteer to help out or donate to charities that support children whose parents are in prison.

Bury the dead

Through our prayers and actions at the time of a funeral we show respect for life,  and comfort to those who mourn.

  • Make a meal or do some baking for a family who are grieving.
  • Visit those who are grieving and offer them support.
  • Send a card to someone who has recently lost a loved one.  Make your own card and use some of these prayers.
  • Visit the cemetery and pray for the dead – especially those who have no-one to pray for them.
  • Do a cemetery clean up – wash headstones, weed…