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A number of years ago the Sisters in charge of Mercy Hospital, Chicago, treated a penniless stranger kindly and nursed him back to health. Thirty-five years later they figured that this kindness had brought them $620,000.

The man had come to the hospital dangerously ill. Several weeks later he went on his way in good health. The sisters marked it down as a charity case. The nuns had forgotten about the incident when, a year later, a check for $250,000 arrived from Paris, France. It was signed by a Ferris Thompson, a New Yorker living in Paris with his wife, a former countess. Thompson wrote that the man so kindly treated by the sisters was his friend. Thompson was not a Catholic, and he knew nothing of the Sisters of Mercy except what his friend had told him. The donor wrote that there were no strings attached, and that the money should be used to treat others as they had treated his friend. Furthermore, he was establishing a trust fund which would bring the sisters $5,000 every year. The donor eventually died, but the $5,000 continued coming every year. The sisters built a new nurses' home and named it Ferris Thompson Hall. Thirty-five years after they had performed their work of mercy, the sisters received word that the widow had died, leaving $200,000 to the hospital. Adding it up, the original $250,000, $5,000 each year for thirty-four years, and the $200,000 left in the will-the total reward for their deed of mercy was $620,000.

 Yet, those same sisters would be the first to say that this earthly reward, generous though it may have been, was nothing compared to the heavenly reward they expected, and of which they were sure, for their service to the sick and poor. Like millions of other religious and lay people, those sisters are counting on the words of Christ, expressed in the Fifth Beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." St. Matthew, 5:7.

Not always, in fact, seldom, is mercy so generously rewarded in this life. Always will it be rewarded by the Lord of mercy. Always will He keep His promise to show mercy to those who show mercy.

Mercy means an active and effective compassion and sympathy for others. It is the very opposite of the worldly saying and program: "Happy he who needs no mercy."

The world as much as says that those who need mercy are out of luck. Likewise, Christian mercy is opposed to the maxim of the world that we should take as much as possible and give as little as possible. The mercy of Christ prompts us to feel for others, to sympathize with their sorrows and pains, and to do as much as we can about it.

They are merciful-

Who relieve the wants of others according to their means. What a field, world wide, there is for such mercy. Here is something you can do every day. Is there someone in need in your neighborhood or community? Be merciful and relieve that need.

They are merciful-

Who practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

The corporal works are the following:

to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbor the homeless, to visit the sick, to ransom the captive, and to bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses willingly, to comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead.

They are merciful-

Who bear and excuse the faults of others. This type of mercy can be practiced every day. Excuse the faults of others, and God will excuse your faults.

They are merciful-

Who willingly forgive injuries received. Happiness here and here- after is assured the forgiving heart.

They are merciful-

Who offer pardon and assistance to their enemies. Who sympathize and feel with others.

All your mercy must be grounded on faith. Otherwise it is merely a natural virtue, and merits only natural rewards.

The decision on Judgment Day will be mercy or no mercy, depending on whether or not you have shown mercy on this earth.

Our supreme example of mercy is God himself, whose "tender mercies are over all His works." Psalms, 144:9.

He shows that mercy:

A.     Toward all men, especially sinners.

B.     Freely and fully.

C.     With divine liberality.

D.     Without fail.

Christ, God made man, showed compassion in every way, by His preaching and teaching, by His interest in the poor and downcast, by His miracles, by His forgiveness of sinners, and by His granting forgiveness from the cross.

The followers of Christ are identified by their works of mercy, corporal and spiritual.

Blessed, indeed, is he who shows mercy. He is happy  

A.     In the gift of repentance and remission of sins.

B.     In the inspiration of God's grace.

C.     In temporal blessings. The gift to the Sisters of Mercy is an out standing example of this.

D.     In special favors from God. Through their mercy the saints won many favors from God.

E.      In progress along the way of perfection.

The merciful are also rewarded with the faithful, superabundant, overflowing merits of God. To this mercy all of us are called, just as many were called to the great supper in to day's Gospel.

Are you going to make excuses? Are you going to turn down the invitation?

Are you going to make it necessary for the Lord to invite someone else to do His work of mercy? God forbid.

Be merciful, actively and effectively and generously merciful, and you will be truly happy and blessed-here and hereafter.


© 2004 – Victor R. Claveau


Part or all of this article may be reproduced without obtaining permission as long as the author is cited.


"Dost thou wish to receive mercy?

Show mercy to thy neighbor.

-St. John Chrysostom



Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved