These online lessons may be used:
• by individuals anytime, anywhere.
• in group settings — families, faith sharing groups, faith formation programs, and schools.
• in “flipped” classroom situations for people to view before meeting face to face.
You may just want to use a suggested video, story, or question — in anyway that helps us recognize that God’s mercy is anytime, anywhere, and we are called to be merciful as well.
The structure of the lesson is based on Msgr. Francis Kelly’s Ecclesial Method.
Step 1 – Preparation: Each lesson will begin with a video and prayer to help us focus on the Works of Mercy in General.
Works of Mercy Reflection:
The Works of Mercy presume putting others first. In this video, the Pope sincerely apologizes for not praying enough for survivors of abuse. Who do we need to pray for more? How can this prayer lead to conversion and action?
We thank You for Your Goodness, so readily apparent in Your creation!
Yet, by our own actions, we can make it hard for others see Your presence. And by the way we respond to the sinfulness of others, we often fail to make present Your Reign where it needs most to be seen and felt.
Help us love one another so that we may all grow in our love for You and make your Reign real.
Give us the wisdom, patience and grace to stop and ponder the needs of those who are in pain, especially those who harm us. This way we may truly learn to love our enemies.
Help us to respond with justice to those who hurt us, a justice tempered with the love and mercy You show to us.
We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Step 2 – Proclamation: Each lesson will repeat the Works of Mercy to help us remember them.
The Spiritual Works of mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
The Corporal Works of mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.
Step 3 – Explanation: This step will address a specific Work of Mercy.
This Month: Bear Wrongs Patiently
I. Turning the Other Cheek
Patiently bearing the wrongs other do, especially to our families or to ourselves, is very difficult indeed. So is Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek”:
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. – Matthew 5:39
Clearly we humans feel driven to retaliate, often under the guise of justice, when we are wronged. Warring factions, political divisions, and racial tensions often stem from what the other side “did first.” We want to respond with equal or greater physical, emotional or psychological violence. Even polarities within religious institutions are sometimes guilty of this type of retribution.
Jesus was clear: turn the other cheek.
Yet, according to John, when Jesus himself was struck after his arrest, he didn’t turn his other cheek.
…one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”- John 18:23
Jesus responded in a way that called the guard to task, while not escalating the violence.
Is it possible that, when we are wronged, our calling is to stop and ponder the situation patiently before responding? And in that patience think about the root cause of the wrong, the possible ways we could respond, and then make the best choice a Disciple of Jesus would make? Or, in Jesus’ case, it didn’t seem that he had the time to ponder his response, but it came from a a lifetime of preparing to act in a way befitting the Son of God. Can we live our lives in such a way that we are prepared for wrongs that are done to us?
This work of mercy, to Bear Wrongs Patiently, includes the modifying word “patiently”.
It is not without pain that we bear wrongs. This is part of the Paschal Mystery… dying to ourselves to rise with Christ. But how can we ever bring about the Reign of God if we simply retaliate and even escalate the wrongs done to us? When will the spiral of evil end? At some point we have to stop and ponder the wrong, and respond wisely when we are ready to repay evil with good. It may be humbling and unsatisfying, even painful, at the moment. But it is a work of mercy, after all.
Step 4 – Application and Appropriation into Life is the bridge between head knowledge and daily living as a disciple of Christ.
Faith in Action
Describe a time you, or someone you knew, experienced a wrong and turned it into positive thing. How does this build up the Reign of God?
Suggested Activities (add your suggestions below):
- Can you think of a time that fun horseplay or wrestling turned into angry fight? Finish this statement, “It’s all fun and games until someone _______________.”
- List stages through which a conflict may progress. When should the people involved stop and ponder how to respond as a disciple of Jesus. Share a story about a conflict that was resolved in a healthy way, a way you would expect within the Reign of God.
Parish and School:
- Come prepared to share a story about a conflict or wrong. It can range from a spat among people you know, a situation where a bully is acting up, or even a newspaper article about a tragic conflict.
- Discuss ideas to ponder as you seek a solution.
- List ways you can prepare every day to handle patiently and wisely future wrongs that may be committed against you, your community, or even your global family.
Step 5 – Celebration: Lessons will close with a prayer, silent or communally, that gives glory to God.
God of Peace,
You call us all to holiness, to be the People you have created us to be. Give us a spirit of patience, humility and strength to love those who hurt us, so that we can do our part to make your Reign present on earth. We ask you this as we pray the words Your Son gave to us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
In the “Leave a Reply” area below, please suggest another activity that addresses this Work of Mercy, or share a story about it.