4. Clothe the Naked
To modern Americans, this is the most seemingly anachronistic of the corporal works of mercy. After all, no one in the First World goes around wearing nothing. (Well, very few people, at any rate – and those who do so usually go about naked by choice.)
But as with the other corporal works of mercy, this work is calling us to more than mere lip service to the basic letter of the law. Like the other Corporal Works of Mercy true fulfillment of these commands runs much deeper than merely finding nudists and making them put on clothes.
Somewhat obviously, this work of mercy demands charity to those who need of warmth and shelter from the elements. Under-clothed individuals on the streets are in need of this work of mercy. Those in Africa or foreign countries who need clothes also need our help, as far as we can provide it. Whether at home or abroad, showing a willingness to clothe others is a necessity.
But this work is not merely about providing for the involuntary lack of clothing of others; it is also a command to live a live of modesty, as well. It would be a blatant mockery of this work to go about clothing others yet walk about half-dressed.
And not only must we displaying modesty in our own lives; we must inspire others to live the virtue of modesty, as well. Reminding men and women of their dignity as temples of the Holy Spirit is also a wonderful method of fulfilling this merciful work - one sadly lacking in our modern world.
To clothe those in need of warmth and comfort, and to embody the virtues of purity and modesty: this is the true spirit of this Corporal Work of Mercy.