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Consoling the afflicted – Fourth Spiritual Work of Mercy

The Works of Mercy through the eyes of a biblical scholar

With the contribution of biblical scholar Carlo Miglietta, we take a look at the fourth spiritual work useful for the in-depth study organised by Spazio Spadoni on the Works of Mercy underway in Lucca.

The fourth Work of Spiritual Mercy is “consoling the afflicted”

IV opera di misericordia (3)

The biblical scholar points out to us that he who performs this work is similar to:

  • God: “I, I am your comforter” (Is 51:12); “As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you will be comforted” (Is 66:13); “The Lord comforts his people and has pity on their misery” (Is 49:13; cf. 57:18-19); “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt and I have heard their cry…; I know their suffering. I came down to deliver them from the hand of Egypt” (Ex 3:7-8); “This poor man cries out, and the Lord hears him, and delivers him from all his distress” (Ps 34:7. 18); “For the oppression of the wretched and the groaning of the poor I will arise,” says the Lord, “I will rescue the despised” (Ps 12:6); “He turns to the prayer of the wretched and does not despise his supplication” (Ps 102:18); “In distress they cried out to the Lord, and he delivered them out of their distress” (Ps 107:13-14); “In distress I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me, the Lord, and brought me to safety” (Ps 118:5-7); “God, who comforts the afflicted, has comforted us” (2 Cor 7:6).
  • Jesus: “The Lord…has sent me to bring glad tidings to the wretched, to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted…. to console all the afflicted, to gladden the afflicted of Zion” (Is 61:1-3; cf. Lk 4:18); “Moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand” (Mk 1:41); “He saw a great crowd and was moved by them” (Mk 6:34; cf. 8:2; Mt 9:36); “He felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Mt 14:14)…
  • The Holy Spirit: “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16, 26); “When the Comforter comes…, he will bear witness to me” (Jn 15:26); “If I do not go, the Comforter will not come to you” (Jn 16:7).
  • Job: “I showed them the way to follow…, as a comforter of the afflicted” (Job 29:25).
  • Hezekiah: “He comforted the afflicted of Zion” (Sir 48:24).

The biblical scholar also reminds us that he who consoles the afflicted hears the Word of God

Below some excerpts:

  • “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Is40:1).
  • “Avoid not those who mourn, and with the afflicted show affliction” (Sir 7:34).
  • “Weep with those who mourn” (Rom 12:15).
  • “Blessed be God…, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we also may comfort those who are in any kind of affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-4).
  • “Blessed are the afflicted, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4).

The biblical scholar leaves us at the conclusion of this work with a provocation, a question: do we know how to be “fishers of men” (Mk 1:7), identifying those who console the afflicted and proclaiming the beatitude of mercy that reads “Blessed are the merciful” (Mt 5:7)?

Pain is a warning light

IV opera di misericordia (4)

This Work of Mercy requires us to be attentive observers in order to identify those around us who are experiencing sadness and consequently need comfort. We are called to be bearers of hope, “God will wipe away every tear” (Rev 21:4), certain that God knows our pain and takes it upon himself.

Pain is an unavoidable condition in human life. Fr Fabio Rosini calls it a symptom, not evil itself. It is like a warning light that today’s society tries to silence through narcotizing remedies. He who consoles the afflicted should highlight a reversal that consists in perceiving pain as a gift to save oneself, to be able to prevent evil, a starting point and not an end point.

Consoling the afflicted is an arduous task, there is no instruction manual or directions to follow, the only ingredient for success is love. If guided by love, consolation will never fall in vain.

Learn more about the HIC SUM project

 Manuale Spazio Spadoni

 Handbook Spazio Spadoni

 Manuel de Spazio Spadoni


Carlo Miglietta – Le Opere di Misericordia

 Carlo Miglietta – Works of Mercy

 Carlo Miglietta – Oeuvres de miséricorde

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