After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
~ Luke 11: 37-41
The Lord chastised the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. Externally they appeared to be very observant of the Mosaic Laws, but their hearts were impure.
The homily preached at Mass this morning focused on this Gospel passage. Our pastor asked how often we wash our hands in a single day. Why do we wash our hands? We want them to be free of germs. We want to avoid getting a sickness.
Then he asked, “How about your inside? How do you clean your inside; that is, your heart, your attitude?” I thought he would bring up the Sacrament of Penance and urge us to confess our sins. No, he told us to perform works of Mercy. He challenged us to count how often we wash our hands today. He also challenged us to count our merciful actions. He even said that tomorrow he would allow us to share what we did.
I don’t really feel like counting the times I wash my hands. I probably don’t wash them enough. But I want to try being more cognizant of doing merciful acts as a means to to purify my heart. Father did not specify what merciful acts. He said that is something we need to decide for ourselves.
When I think of merciful acts, the Spiritual andCorporal Works of Mercy come to mind. Here they are in list form.
The Chief Spiritual Works of Mercy
- Counsel the doubtful.
- Instruct the ignorant.
- Admonish the sinner.
- Comfort the sorrowful.
- Forgive injuries.
- Bear wrongs patiently.
- Pray for the living and the dead.
The Chief Corporal Works of Mercy
- Feed the hungry.
- Give drink to the thirsty.
- Clothe the naked.
- Visit the sick and imprisoned.
- Give shelter to stangers.
- Bury the dead.
According to the catechism everyone is obligated to perform works of mercy according to their own abilities and the needs of their neighbor. The little deeds we do daily that offer relief to those in need are true works of mercy when we do them in the name of Christ, our Lord.
I do not see myself giving an account to my pastor at Mass tomorrow. But, at the close of my day I examine my conscience. For the remainder of this week I will use the Works of Mercy as a standard to see how I measure up.