By KATIE GROSS
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
When I read this reading, I had nothing to say that hasn’t already been said a million times. However, I do know a woman who is a professional at these kind of things—Mother Teresa. From volunteer experience with the Missionaries of Charity, I can say that Mother Teresa is the most powerful woman I have ever heard of. She was powerful not in the worldly sense—in fact, she was as poor as could be—but in the spiritual sense, this woman was obviously a saint. This woman gave her Nobel Peace Prize speech without any notes or preparation!!! The written speech that she submitted beforehand doesn’t match what she said at all—she decided to speak from the heart! And pray. About abortion! To a crowd who was most certainly secular! Talk about courage.
Mother Teresa lived her whole life around this Gospel reading. I really encourage you to watch her Nobel Prize speech. It is eighteen minutes long (she has a lot to talk about), but you could add it into your nightly prayer. To hear the voice of a modern-day saint is worth the time. It makes the Gospel come alive. http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1852
Here are some of my favorite quotes from her speech, all of which embody today’s Gospel:
“[Jesus] makes Himself that hungry one, that naked one, that homeless one—and not only hungry for a piece of bread, but hungry for love. Not only naked for a piece of cloth, but naked of human dignity. Not only homeless for a room to live, but homeless for have being forgotten, unloved, uncared for—being nobody to nobody. Having forgotten what is human love, what is human touch, what it is to be loved by somebody. And he says: ‘Whatever you did to the least of these my brethren, you did unto me.’ It is so beautiful for us to become holy through this love.”
“We must tell the poor… that they are somebody to us… they too have been created by the same loving hand of God, to love and to be loved. Our poor people are great people—are very loveable people. They don’t need our pity and sympathy. They need our loving understanding. They need our respect.”
“I never forget when I brought a man from the street. He was covered with maggots. His face was the only place that was clean. And yet than man—when we brought him to our home for the dying—he said just one sentence: ‘I have lived like an animal in the street. But I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for.’ And he died beautifully. He went home to God, for death is nothing but going home to God. And he, having enjoyed that love—that being wanted—that being loved-- that being somebody to somebody in the last moment—brought true joy.”
“The greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent unborn child. For if a mother can kill her own child in her own room, what is it for you and me to kill each other? In the Scripture it is written: ‘Even if a mother could forget her child, I could not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.’”
“A love, to be true, has to hurt. I never forget a little child who taught me a very beautiful lesson. They heard in Calcutta—the children—that Mother Teresa has no sugar for her children. And this little one—Hindu boy, four years old—he went home and he told his parents, ‘I will not eat sugar for three days. I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa’… He loved with great love. He loved until it hurt. And this is what I ask of you: to love one another until it hurts.”
“I brought a girl child in from the street, and I could see in the face of the child that the child was hungry. God knows how many days she had not eaten. So I gave her a piece of bread, and the little one started eating the bread crumb by crumb. And I said—I said to the child, ‘Eat the bread, eat the bread.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘I am afraid to eat the bread, because I am afraid that when it is finished, I will be hungry again.’”
“One evening, a gentleman came to our house and said, ‘There is a Hindu family with eight children. They have not eaten in a long time. Do something for them.’ And I took rice and I went immediately, and there was this mother. And those little ones’faces—shining eyes from sheer hunger. She took the rice from my hands, she divided it into two, and she went out. When she came back, I asked her, ‘Where did you go?’ ‘What did you do?’ And the answer she gave me? ‘They are hungry also.’ She knew that the next door neighbor, a Muslim family, was hungry. What surprised me most wasn’t that she gave the rice, but that in her suffering, in her hunger, she knew that somebody else was hungry, and she had the courage—she had the love to share. And this is what I want you to do: to love the poor. And never turn your back on the poor, for when you do, you turn it to Christ. For He has made himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the hungry one, so that you and I have the opportunity to love Him.”
“Where is God? How can we love God? It’s not enough to say, ‘My God, I love you,’ but ‘My God, I love you here. ’I can enjoy this, but I give it. I can eat that sugar, but I give that sugar. You would be surprised at the things people do to share the joy of giving.”
Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!