Dinner Church: Thursdays in Lent 6:30p.m.-7:30p.m.
What to do/bring: Come straight from work, and pick up or bring a side dish to share if you wish, or a beverage. Eat and worship.
As a lot of you might know, I think Pope Francis is a tremendously inspirational leader of God’s church—by which I mean the whole church of God in Christ Jesus, not just the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t happen to agree with him on everything, but in this case what I think probably isn’t that important, compared to Francis’s own example of humility and leadership.
But one of the things that struck me was his dedication to God’s mercy, and so I’ve picked up a couple books that I hope have helped me understand what he means by that. One of them is a wonderful book by Cardinal Walter Kasper called, appropriately, Mercy. He writes,
“…in the face of irrevocable unjust relationships, the Bible speaks of eschatological hope in God’s justice. In this way, the call for mercy surpasses the cry for justice in the Bible. The Bible understands mercy as God’s own justice. Mercy is the heart of the Biblical message, not by undercutting it, but by surpassing it.”
Isn’t that a wonderful thing to contemplate? Mercy is the heart of the good news of God, not by reducing or abrogating or negating justice, but by surpassing it.
So, this year for Dinner Church, we’ll talk about the medieval notion of the 14 works of Mercy, the corporal (or physical) works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy. They’re listed below. By discussing some of them, hopefully we’ll know more about the good news of God’s mercy, and what it means for us.
Corporal Works of Mercy
The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.
feed the hungry
give drink to the thirsty
clothe the naked
shelter the homeless
visit the sick
visit the imprisoned
bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
counsel the doubtful
instruct the ignorant
comfort the afflicted
bear wrongs patiently
pray for the living and the dead