1. Feed the Hungry
2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
Readers, I promised you a more in-depth look at the Corporal Works of Mercy. Here they are...
These first two corporal works of mercy are similar in nature - involving the same command to serve those who need sustenance.
At first glance, they both seem to be basic. They command us to give food and drink to those who need them.
But a seemingly simple question arises: To whom do we give food and drink? Like the scholar who asked "And who is my neighbor?" in the Gospels (Luke 10:25-37), we are called to give to anyone we come across who needs our helps.
For most individuals, these two corporal works of mercy are primarily domestic affairs. Parents are called to provide for their spouses and children. Guests who visit are to be taken care of.
These works of mercy often takes the form of mundane tasks: cooking meals, washing dishes, buying groceries, earning money for our families – those simple things we do every day. Done in a spirit of grumbling, these tasks are spiritually sapping; performed in a spirit of joy, they prove fruitful and are truly works of mercy.
But we must be prepared to feed and to slake the thirst of more than our family and friends. We personally must feed all we can, and slake the thirst of all who need it, to the best of our ability. This includes the poor, the disabled, and the underprivileged.
Obviously, in the short term by through the simple charity of almsgiving. And indeed, some fortunate men and women are best suited to help the poor through this method - businessmen, financiers, and the wealthy.
But for most Christians, more than mere philanthropy is required of us. We are called to give of ourselves to those in need - by giving our time and energy to the poor.
Most of us are called to minister to our families and friends. Others are called to go to soup kitchens, and feed the poor through with their hands. Others are called to a missionary life, going out to foreign lands to nourish those in need. Still others are called to assist those on the streets and feed the homeless.
One thing is clear: we must give to those who need food and drink, in whatever fashion in which we are able to do so.