Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

January 23 | Mercy

Saint John the Almsgiver

A.D. 552 – 619

Serving others is at the core of the mission God has for his children. In its genius, Catholicism gives us fourteen ways to serve others, broken up into two categories: the corporal works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works of mercy are concerned with meeting the physical needs of others. The spiritual works of mercy are designed to meet the spiritual needs of others. 

Saint John the Almsgiver, also known as John the Merciful, dedicated his life to the works of mercy.

After his wife and children tragically died, John became the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt (a similar role to an archbishop). Under his leadership, Alexandria saw the establishment of hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the elderly. But his works of mercy were also deeply personal. He distributed food to the poor with his own hands, and offered spiritual guidance and comfort to all who needed it.

Once, a poor man begged Saint John for money, but John instead gave him a shipload of wheat to sell and start life anew. The man sold the wheat and squandered the money. He then returned to John with deep shame, asking for help again. John patiently gave him another shipload of wheat. After he squandered the proceeds a second time, John's followers expected him to rebuke the man. Instead, Saint John smiled and gave him a third shipload of wheat, saying, "Perhaps this time he will not lose it."

Saint John the Almsgiver practiced the works of mercy every day. Imagine how the world would be different if everyone practiced just one work of mercy each day. Who do you know today that could use some mercy? Some compassion, some prayer, some attention? Go out and be merciful. Inspire the world with your mercy.

How would the world be different if everyone practiced just one work of mercy each day? Who is someone I know who needs a corporal or spiritual work of mercy?

I am an ambassador of mercy in the world.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Patron Saint of: Egypt

Feast Day: January 23

Feast Day Shared By: Saint Ildefonsus

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