The Spiritual Works of Mercy can seem, in some ways, outdated. The first is usually given as "to instruct the ignorant." Today we often consider the term "ignorant" as a pejorative. But to be ignorant of something is not necessarily to be willfully ignorant. I admit there are many, many things I know nothing of and probably never will know anything about. On the other hand, there are fields of study that I know that others don't. It seems to me that this is normal today when the universe of knowledge has expanded so much. And if everyone knew everything a lot of conversations would be boring, wouldn't they?
Lots of people instruct the ignorant on a regular basis, for example, teachers. The other day I toured a battle field and George Washington's boyhood farm in Fredericksburg, VA. On the battlefield I was instructed by a National Park Guide; on the farm I listened to archaeologists both in person and on an ipad. I'm not quite as ignorant now as I was before about the Battle of the Wall or the Ferry Farm.
But instructing the ignorant as a spiritual work of mercy involves teaching someone about being a disciple of Jesus. Plenty of people do this too. Christian parents, first of all, instruct their children about right and wrong, about forgiving, and about the life of Jesus. Then there are those who teach discipleship more formally - catechists, pastors, and Bible study leaders, for example. Sometimes something as informal as telling a co-worker how God touched your life can be educational. So we see that opportunities abound to instruct the ignorant and it needn't be a matter of looking down on someone at all. Rather it is sharing something precious to us - our life with Christ.
For Reflection: How have I shared my life in Christ with others in the last few weeks? If I have a godchild, have I been in touch with him/her lately?
Let us pray. Jesus, I may not have been so good about talking about you to others in the past, but I want to do better in the future. Help me to recognize anyone in my life who could use some instruction.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.