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588

Part Three

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them

what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of

mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.

241

2447

The works of mercy

are charitable actions by which we

come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessi­

ties.

242

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.

243

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:

244

He who has two coats, let him share with himwho has none;

and he who has food must do likewise.

245

But give for alms

those things which are within; and behold, everything is

clean for you.

246

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?

247

2448

“In its various forms—material deprivation, unjust oppres­

sion, physical and psychological illness and death—

human misery

is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for

salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original

sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who

willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least

of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the

object of

a preferential love

on the part of the Church which, since her

origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not

ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through

numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always

and everywhere.”

248

241 St. Gregory the Great,

Regula Pastoralis.

3, 21: PL 77, 87.

242 Cf.

Isa

58:6-7;

Heb

13:3.

243 Cf.

Mt

25:31-46.

244 Cf.

Tob

4:5-11;

Sir

17:22;

Mt

6:2-4.

245

Lk

3:11.

246

Lk

11:41.

247

Jas

2:15-16; cf.

1 Jn

3:17.

248 CDF, instruction,

Libertatis conscientia,

68.

1460

1038

1969

1004

386

1586