As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we count our blessings. When we are mindful of all that God has done for us and all that we have received from the generosity of others, we become ever more aware of our responsibility to show gratitude through our own service of our brothers and sisters in need. The Church’s reminder to us concerning how to give return for what we have received is the teaching regarding the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
CCC #2447. The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. (Cf. Isaiah 58:6-7; Hebrews 13:3.)
Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.
The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. (Cf. Matthew 25:31-46.)
Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God (Cf. Tobit 4:5-11; Sirach ; Matthew 6:2-4.):
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. (Luke 3:11.) But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. (Luke 11:41.) If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16; cf. 1 John 3:17.)
Let us give thanks to God for His gifts, and may we share abundantly with those in need through the power of His Mercy at work in our hearts. May we learn, too, to share the riches of our Faith with all who long to know God through us.