On September 5th, we commemorate the second anniversary of the death of
Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This is appropriate since it seems that the world
is more involved with commemorating the death of Princess Diane. It is also
appropriate to recall who she was, and what she did.
Mother Teresa said that she saw Christ in every person, that tending to
wounds, the hunger and suffering of Christ, was a most blessed thing. But, I
feel, in her humility she wasn't telling the full story. She did more than
see Christ in others, she saw them with the eyes of Christ. She was Christ
Her love of God's children wouldn't allow her to remain in the relative
security and comfort of the convent of her Order. She was compelled to go
out into the street, forsaking all that she held dear, loved, and enjoyed,
for the sake of His children in the streets.
"O Francis, if you want to know My will, you must hate and despise all
that hitherto your body has loved and desired to possess. Once you begin to
do this, all that formerly seemed sweet and pleasant to you will become
bitter and unbearable; and instead, the things that formerly made you shudder
will bring you great sweetness and content." (St. Francis of Assisi; Omnibus
of Sources; Legend of the Three Companions, Chap 4, #11, pg 900)
Because she became Christ for others, she led many by her example of
true love. She recalled how she was told a Hindu family was starving. So
taking what rice she had, she went to their home and gave it to them.
Immediately the Hindu mother took the rice, thankfully, and took it next
door, to a starving Muslim family. She was overjoyed to see them share the
rice together. Would this have occurred without her example? A Christian
giving rice to a Hindu out of love who, in turn shared with a Muslim. The
Kingdom of God most assuredly broke through and shone brightly that day.
But like so many who follow Christ, she is both praised and vilified.
Her teachings and example are both followed and distorted. Mother Teresa was
not one to mince words. She has been attacked for not doing enough to call
attention to the 'oppressiveness' of her Church; that if she were a true
saint, she would have demanded the Church allow women priests and other
'agenda's'. But Mother Teresa was not interested in agenda's only in doing
God's will. Regardless how much it might have hurt.
She was vilified for accepting funds, which may have come from unsavory
sources. Yet Christ Himself ate and drank with some of the most unsavory
people of His day. Why? To bring them to God, to remind them of God's love
and ask for their repentance and conversion. What better thing could a
person do who had gained the whole world but lost his soul by the
accumulation of wealth in unsavory ways, than return that money to God via
Mother Teresa? To do His work on earth.
Often, she was brutal in her honesty. She didn't shy away from exposing
sin and error. But, again like Christ, burned with a sorrow that can't be
comprehended. Isn't this one reason why Christ wept in the garden? For the
many who would not benefit from His sacrifice due to their own desires?
Didn't He weep before Jerusalem because she refused to see the great gift God
was giving her?
Few people know, or will acknowledge, her chastisement of the most
powerful people of the most powerful nation on earth.
"By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child
to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not
have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the
world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So
abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is
not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they
want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the
children of Africa, where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people
are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United
States. These concerns a re very good. But often these same people are not
concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision
of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace
today: abortion, which brings people to such blindness." (National Prayer
Did she shy away from the issues? No, she faced them head on. Like
Christ, she forced them to see the truth. Whether they accepted the truth
was up to them. Nor did she accept that what she did was connected to some
notion of social responsibility, but rather a responsibility to God.
"We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some
people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must
bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays
together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we
with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at
home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we
It is appropriate that I close this with her closing words at the National
"If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as he loves
us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign
of care for the weakest of the weak - the unborn child - must go out to the
world. lf you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then
really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God
bless you!" (Ibid)
It isn't about empowerment, but in caring. It isn't about being social
workers, but spiritual workers.
When I think of Mother Teresa, I recall the small, frail elderly woman who
stood before some of the most powerful men in the world and received a
standing ovation from all but two, the first among the powerful.
What a contrast.
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us
who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will
destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will
thwart.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of
this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in
the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God
through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews
demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a
stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called,
both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the
foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger
than men" (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
Mother Teresa, pray for us.