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Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy

Corporal works of mercy

Read the list of the seven corporal works of mercy:
Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the
homeless, visit the sick and bury the dead.
Read the passages, Matthew 25:31-40 from the New Testament and from the Old
Testament Tobit 1:16-18 and underline each of the works of mercy identifiable in the text.
Use blue to identify those you are sure of and red to identify those you are not sure of.
Compare with a partner.
Matthew 25:31-40 (NRSVCE)
The Judgment of the Nations
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on
the throne of his glory.
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate
people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
and he will
put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at
his right hand, Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked
and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you
visited me.
Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry
and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we
saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it
that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?
And the king will answer them, Truly I
tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did
it to me.
Tobit 1:16-18 (NRSVCE)
Courage in Burying the Dead
In the days of Shalmaneser
I performed many acts of charity to my kindred, those of my
I would give my food to the hungry and my clothing to the naked; and if I saw the
dead body of any of my people thrown out behind the wall of Nineveh, I would bury it.
also buried any whom King Sennacherib put to death when he came fleeing from Judea in
those days of judgment that the king of heaven executed upon him because of his
blasphemies. For in his anger he put to death many Israelites; but I would secretly remove
the bodies and bury them. So when Sennacherib looked for them he could not find them.

Activity Working Mercy

Students form small learning teams to consider ways the Corporal Works of Mercy are put
into practical action within the local community setting and how these efforts might be
practically supported.

Each learning team is allocated a different corporal work to consider. They use online
resources, print resources (e.g. the local telephone book) and human resources, to list ways
their allocated corporal work in put into action within the local community. The cards
provided below could be used. Each card already includes some suggestions. Students can
add additional groups on the back of each card. Individually, students select one group (e.g.
Meals on Wheels) and complete a 5Ws + H Strategy about the group and how they act
justly within the local community context.

Students should be encouraged to think more broadly than a simple surface level
interpretation of each corporal work. For example, giving drink to the thirsty might
incorporate: local efforts to ensure people overseas have access to safe drinking water.
Meals on Wheels
Freds Van

WaterWise Campaign
Brisbane Ecumenical Coffee Brigade

Salvation Army Stores
Vinnies Stores
Mary Potter Hospice
Hospital Chaplaincy
Friends of the Local Cemetery Program
Parish Care and Concern Group

Spiritual works of mercy
Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic theologian from the thirteenth century in his Summa
Theologiae, faithfully records and describes the spiritual works of mercy. Like the corporal
works, the spiritual works illustrate ways Christians are able to demonstrate charity to others.
The Spiritual works of mercy are:

Challenge injustice, Instruct those who need to learn, Console those losing hope, Comfort
the sorrowful, Bear wrongs patiently, Forgive all injuries (against you), Pray for the living and
the dead.
The following table gives some everyday examples of the spiritual works of mercy. Students
provide an example from their classroom or school context.

Spiritual Works of
Everyday English Version Example at school

Challenge injustice

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel those who
are doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful

Challenge people and organisations
that treat others unjustly and unfairly.

Teach/Learn more about justice
issues and help others to do the

Work with others to solve problems

Show practical empathy to those who
are dealing with problems in their life.

St Vincent de Paul Hostel
Catholic Prison Ministry

Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and
the dead

Be patient with others who share a
different viewpoint from yours.

Forgive and help others to do the

Pray each day for the human family,
both living and those who have died.

Students examine the seventeenth century artwork by Teniers The Seven Corporal Works of
Mercy below or via this link.

Answer the following questions:

Describe what you see. E.g. colour/use of light, people, animals, objects, buildings, actions.

Which of the corporate works of mercy can you identify?

Students create an advertising poster for display around the school community. Each poster
should focus on one of the everyday English versions of the spiritual works of mercy or the
corporal works of mercy but place it in a practical context. An example of how this might be
done is provided below as well as the learning log entry by a Year 8 student who created the
poster. Other examples could be produced digitally using an online tool.

This might be some good resources to use
Cardijn College Harrassment Policy and the student policy

I chose the
Spiritual work:
Challenge injustice
I re-wrote to
mean, Stick up for
people who are
treated unfairly. I
then chose bullying
as a justice issue in
my school.
My poster is called,
Bullying is not