Spiritual Reflection: Embodying Corporal Works of Mercy as Holy Year Closes

If there is a word or concept that summarizes Pope Francis’s ministry to the universal Church, “mercy” would likely be at the top of the list. Nowhere is this more evident than in his declaring the current Church year an “Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.” When opening the Holy Door to St. Peter last December 8, Pope Francis spoke of his desire that, “This will be a year when we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.” 


As individuals we take great solace in the fact that God’s mercy is greater than any sin we might commit. Repeatedly, the Holy Father has reminded us that God never tires of forgiving us. God never condemns us to our past, but sees us sinners for our future.


However, this Holy Year is not just about us individually experiencing the forgiveness of God. This year of grace is also meant to be an encouragement for us to embody “God’s mercy” through our concrete acts of charity and care for the poor and marginalized. We bring God’s mercy to flesh when we live the Corporal Works of Mercy:        


to feed the hungry;

to give drink to the poor;

to clothe the naked;

to shelter the homeless;

to care for the sick;

to visit the imprisoned; and

to bury the dead.


“Defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor” is the mission and motto of the Order of Malta.  As this Holy Year of Mercy concludes, may we as individuals and Members of the Order recommit ourselves anew to be instruments of God’s mercy by embodying the corporal works of mercy. God’s mercy knows no constraints of time and place. May our acts of charity and kindness reflect the goodness and mercy of God.  “Give Thanks to the Lord for he is good, His Mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 136)