The Corporal Works of Mercy

Josh Raymond, on a recent episode of The Inner Life, recalled growing up as a Baptist and being encouraged by the youth group at his church to listen to Christian contemporary music. And he remembers discovering Keith Green’s music upon exploring that genre and Green immediately becoming his favorite. Green’s music, though focused on the same topics as other Christian musicians, had so much more depth to Josh.

Among Josh’s favorite songs by him were You Put This Love in My Heart, Your Love Broke Through, and The Sheep and the Goats. Though Green tragically died at the age of 28 in a plane crash, a certain line from The Sheep and the Goats has stuck with Josh after all these years because it offers a very insight into the value of doing good deeds like the Corporal Works of Mercy.

“And my friends, the only difference between the sheep and the goats, according to this scripture, is what they did, and didn’t do!” (Keith Green, The Sheep and the Goats)

Green is referring to the famous discourse from Chapter 25 of Matthew, in which Our Lord says that when He comes again, He will separate all the nations of the earth into two groups: the “sheep” will be placed on His right, and the “goats” on His left. The sheep are those who served Christ through their neighbors on earth, and the goats are those who ignored Him.

“‘Come, you who 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’” (Matthew 25:34-36)

Guest Father Ethan Southard agreed, referencing the passage from James 2:14 in which he begins by saying, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”

It doesn’t matter if we are wealthy and powerful or poor and lowly. We are all called to serve the less fortunate, because what good is our faith if we do not act upon it? Without the Corporal and Spiritual works, we are standing upon empty words and pointless teaching. Lead by example. Practice what you preach.

Hurricane Ian recently made landfall in Florida, devastating the southwest coast with gale-force winds, torrential rainfall, flooding, and widespread destruction. The inhabitants of southern Florida are a prime example of people who are in great need of corporal service. Many people’s homes were flooded and damaged and many possessions were lost or destroyed. Life, for many people in the wake of the hurricane, has been put on hold while they pick up the pieces. It is up to us, those in more a fortunate position, to sacrifice what we can to contribute to the rebuilding and recovery process.

Realistically, it isn’t possible for the average individual to help save the millions of people around the world who suffer from hunger, homelessness, or illness. But it is possible for each individual to help one or two people that they encounter. And if everybody were to employ an attitude of selflessness and generosity, it would have a tremendous impact on the country and the world.

“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16)

The 7 Corporal Works of Mercy:

  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. Shelter the Homeless
  4. Visit the Sick
  5. Visit the Imprisoned
  6. Bury the Dead
  7. Give Alms to the Poor

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.