The Corporal Works of Mercy (Feed the hungry; Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; Visit the sick; Visit the imprisoned; Bury the dead) are a direct imperative of Jesus. It is pretty straight forward in scripture how it impacts our salvation:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31-46)
Less obvious, and sometimes more neglected, are the Spiritual Works of Mercy (Admonish the sinner; Instruct the ignorant; Counsel the doubtful; Comfort the sorrowful; Bear wrongs patiently; Forgive all injuries; Pray for the living and the dead). They can be uncomfortable to exercise. Especially the first two, since no body likes to be regarded as a 'sinner' to be admonished, or 'ignorant' and in need of instruction.
But these two are especially needed today. Evangelization in the proper sense of the word is bringing the Good News to those who have not heard it. The 'New Evangelization' is really a re-catechization of those baptized who have not had the seed of faith brought to fruition in their lives.
Progressives adopt this work of 'instructing the ignorant' with vigor. They lobby and march, infiltrate and indoctrinate to get their messages to the unenlightened, and work to punish those who do not comply with their ideology. Those who are poorly catechized and who have given themselves over to the world find themselves to be easy targets for such secular 'instruction.' But who will do the work of the Church, that of instructing those ignorant in the faith, and bearing the brunt of pushback when doing the tough love work of admonishing the sinner? Many times, the need for instruction and admonition far outweighs the capacity of those going out into the mission field. Yet, we are still called, and shouldering the weight of that call of Christ may very well be our cross to bear. A joy and a privilege, yes. But demanding work as well.
When reading accounts of exorcists who do the Church's work of casting out demons in the name of Jesus, what strikes me is just how tiring it can be. The time and energy, the physical demands, and the overwhelming numbers of afflicted in relation to those able to help them--it's real work, and demanding work as well. But for those who are on the receiving end of such deliverance, the minister who has undertaken this work has literally saved their life, ransomed them from death, by the power of Christ.
If we don't speak the truth to those who need to hear it, who will? If we don't instruct those who know only the basics of faith and about the gift of salvation, who will? If we don't take the beating and the pushback from those whom we love when we call them out because of our love for them, who will?
I recently was in the position of feeling the need to instruct my father in the Faith concerning the nature of sin and the Church's teaching on Confession because of some erroneous beliefs. It's one thing when you are instructing strangers, but sometimes with our own family it can be very awkward. It was very uncomfortable for me, and I was very reluctant to do so. I literally had to pray hard about it and force myself to obey the urging of my conscience and write him. Because my house was generally in order, I was able to come at it from a place of love and concern, and not judgement or condemnation. But it still took an investment of time and effort and an uncertainty in how he would respond. Thankfully, he was open and grateful for the long email, and it was the kick he needed to get his own spiritual house in order that might not have happened otherwise.
You are the hands and feet of Christ, and hands and feet are made to work and march. Performing the Works of Mercy is our duty as Christians, even when it's a grind and we'd rather not by staying silent or by staying home. We work by grace, propelled by the Holy Spirit, and sustained by prayer. But it's called 'work' for a reason--it takes effort and sacrifice, and opens us up to pushback and disappointment as well. But like Paul, we should consider it a woe to us if we do not preach the gospel, since we are compelled by God to do it (1 Cor 9:16). We need to love our brothers and sisters, our families, and even those we have never met, enough to put ourselves out there an do the work Christ calls us to--the works of mercy.