The Corporal Works of Mercy

An Unexpected Stranger

One of the first times in my life that I began attending daily Mass was in high school, and when I went to daily Mass, I would pick up a foreign exchange student to come to Mass with me. I would have to be up really early in the morning because the daily Mass was at 6 am. One morning I picked the guy up, and I came to sit at a stoplight. Suddenly someone went up to my friend and began to speak in another language. My friend was from Africa, and he must have known who this guy was. But all of a sudden, to my surprise, the guy got in the back of my car. I freaked out, at least on the inside. He told me that he needed to get to a specific bus stop for he was on his way to a job or something. So I drove to the place and dropped him off. We got to Mass late and had an exciting story to tell. I must admit I think I made sure that I would have my doors locked from then on so no one would come into my car uninvited. But at the same time, it was an opportunity for me to live out what God calls us today in the Gospel. 

Jesus and the End Times

 In the Gospel, we hear Jesus speak of the end times and how, at the end of time, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. He separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the ones to enter the kingdom of heaven, while the goats are the ones who will be left out. Why are the goats left out? Because the goats failed to feed the Lord, clothe him when he was naked, give him something to drink, and so on. While the sheep did feed the Lord, clothe him when he was naked, gave him something to drink, and so on. Jesus tells us, “for what you did for the least of these; you did it unto me.” That is the challenge of our Gospel today and today’s feast. 

The Feast of Christ the King

         We celebrate today the great Feast of Christ the King, or the end of the season of Ordinary time. We are not familiar with calling someone king in our modern culture, especially in this country. We as Americans elect someone as our leader, and they have a time limit on their rule. But a King is usually a successor, a ruler not elected by the people. Jesus, however, is our King and ruler. But what is his rule? What does he reign over? Jesus is the King and ruler of our Church and the Kingdom of God. His kingdom will have no end and will rule from sea to sea. 

How do we join God’s Kingdom?

         The question for our lives is how do we become a part of this kingdom? How do we enter into the kingdom of God and ultimately into heaven? The Gospel points us to how to enter his kingdom. Again remember what our Lord said to the sheep. “What you did to the least of these, you did it unto me.” As I understand it, the way we enter God’s kingdom and how we enter into heaven is by what the Church calls the corporal works of mercy. To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, cloth the naked, visit the sick and prisoner and bury the dead. When we help the poor and the needy in whatever ways we can, we live out Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and the other works of mercy. 


         I believe you could say that when I stopped at the red light and helped that man who needed to get in my car. I was helping Jesus. I hope that this isn’t the only time in my life when I encounter Jesus in the poor, and I respond with generosity and help. Because at the end of time, Jesus will come again and judge us. How will he judge us by helping those in need, those who had no clothing, no food or drink, the homeless, or those in prison? Jesus will be coming again soon. I hope we are ready for this coming, and I hope we are prepared in the way we live out the corporal works of mercy. May we counted among the sheep and live forever with God in heaven. 

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