Corporal Works of Mercy

Difference between charity /philanthropy and the Corporal Works of Mercy

Though both charity /philanthropy and the Corporal Works of Mercy lead to acts of kindness, the difference lies in the cause from which they arise. Christian acts of mercy spring from the love of God ( Deut 6:4-5) and from being the disciples of Jesus: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mt 22:35-40, Mk 12:28-31, Lk 10:25-28). The cause is love, not sympathy or pity, not a feeling or an emotion, not out of convenience, affluence or self gratification. Saint Francis de Sales taught about “disinterested love”, a love that moves the heart towards what is found to be good and aims at union with God’s love. The effect is: “your light [will] shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16).