Instruct the Unlearned

9. A Moment for Mercy - Instruct the Unlearned

Today we turn our attention to the second group of the works of mercy, the spiritual ones. They remind us that besides our physical needs we also have a spiritual side to care for. It is true Jesus does not mention these works of mercy when he speaks about the last judgement, yet over the centuries Christians have seen them as very concrete ways to live our call to be merciful like our Father in heaven.

Sometimes these works of mercy turn out to be more challenging than the corporal ones. We live in a world where we are rightly expected to respect and be tolerant of the other person's beliefs and lifestyle, yet this can make us feel unsure whether we should interfere in this most personal of areas. Our great taboo is 'imposing' one's values and beliefs on others. Unfortunately, this can often lead us to lose all sense of responsibility for the spiritual well-being of our neighbour.

It should come as no surprise that the first in the list invites us to instruct those who do not know. Helping others to grow in their understanding of the world is certainly a work of great mercy, not by ramming ideas down unwilling throats, but by empowering others to believe in themselves, ask the big questions, see the beauty of life around them. Education remains the royal road to freedom.

We live in a world of unprecedented opportunities to put this into practice, especially with the easy availability of internet and the proliferation of social media. We can share what we know with others more easily than ever before, and the way these media are used depends so much on us.

We are all so grateful to those who have taught us what we did not know. May we know how to do the same to others.

By Paul Pace, SJ 

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