Feast of Mother Teresa—Sept. 5

Her service seems as simple as the pure blue and white lines of her clothing. Mother Teresa cared for the poor, dying and homeless in the slums of Calcutta. To those who face daily the quagmire of business decisions, tangled relationships and complex scheduling, her work by contrast seems a clear, uncomplicated gospel following.

Yet few of us abandon our routines, don saris and join her movement. Perhaps we want to believe that something of Teresa’s spirit can invigorate our lives; some of her clarity can penetrate our shadows; some of her compassion can move through us to those we touch each day. Our contacts may not be as abandoned and diseased as those Teresa cared for, but they have the same needs for attention and affection.

Teresa apparently had the same luminosity that attracted people to Jesus. Everyone wanted to be near her in life, and after death she exerts the same attraction. Her biographer Malcolm Muggeridge believed that for people who have trouble grasping “Christ’s great propositions of love… someone like Mother Teresa is a godsend. She is this love in person.”

No one was less sentimental or more “earthy.” She would engage in lively discussion with beggars about their “take of the day,” eager to hear how it went. One of her favorite words was “beautiful”—in the squalor and stench of Calcutta slums! Indeed, she believed her vocation was to be beautiful. She gloried in life-surviving-against-all odds, exulting when a tiny baby survived: “There’s life in her!”

Like ourselves, she often felt exhausted, alone and miserable. Indeed, she predicted she’d become “the saint of darkness.” It’s heartening that “one of us,” as prone to depression and negativity, cheers us on.

 

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