“To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone” -Pope Francis
The world is waiting as the countdown has begun for the great event of canonization to sainthood of Bl. Mother Teresa of Kolkata. On this occasion it is apt to have a view on life journey of Albanian-born Indian citizen who served the unwanted, unloved and uncared people of the world. One of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century.
She experienced a call within her religious call, and became the angel of mercy, which changed her course of life completely, making her what she is known today. Not a single person was left alone without giving love and making them happy whom she encountered by following the footsteps of Jesus.
Time for all:
Shepherds, Three kings, visited the king of the universe, whereas in her life great leaders like Popes, Princess, world political leaders, media reporters, great icons, people of all classes visited her.When Pope Paul VI came to meet her in 1965, she informed him that she was too busy with her work among the poor. Many came to her for an interview, for prayers and blessings but she never judged them. “If you judge people you have no time to love them”.
As Jesus began His work in Galilee, She entered the world of poor, a world that needed her, a world which she wanted her to serve, a world she knew of as her own. She did everything trusting in the providence of God. “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone person to person”.
Jesus called four fishermen. But Mother Teresa became the fishers of people. And on 7th October 1950 founded her congregation, Missionaries of Charity. “God doesn’t call you to be successful; He calls you to be faithful”.
Teach and preach:
Jesus began to teach, preach and heal whereas Mother Teresa began to teach and her news spread throughout the world, she became the light for all who were in darkness of sin and pride. “Happy are the pure in heart, they will see God”. Thus she could see God in their faces.
Net of Love:
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch the souls. Mother Teresa loved all the rich and the poor, friends and enemies. She loved and took care of those who degraded her. “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
Jesus had nothing of his own. So also she never kept anything for herself, everything she gave to the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the noble peace prize, refused the traditional Nobel honor banquet and requested that amount to be allocated to help the poor. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyways”.
As Christ prayed always, Mother Teresa too prayed daily and spent time in front of Blessed Sacrament. She had tremendous love for the Holy Eucharist and the Priests. She says: “The fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love and the fruit of love is service”.
Bitterness to sweetness:
Jesus stretched out his hand saying, be made clean and healed the leper. But Mother Teresa went in search of these, touched them, gave bath to them, fed them, and gave new life to them. “I see God in every human wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself, is it not a beautiful experience?”
Food is life:
Food doesn’t come to us, we go to the food. Food was there before and will be thereafter. Jesus the bread of life, with five loaves and two fish fed more than five thousand people, whereas Mother Teresa could feed the inmates with what was given by the generous people. “If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one”.
Jesus laid his hands and blessed the children. As soon as sisters hear that a new born is found in a slum, they rush to the spot to take the baby. She always longed and urged the children to be given to her those who wanted to abort or throw in the garbage. She took care of all and later many couples who had no children came to her to take the children. “We cannot let a child of God like an animal in the gutter.”
Love in action:
Jesus loved all the sinners and righteous, the rich and the poor and reminded us to love everyone. So Mother Teresa loved from youngest to the eldest of all the religions. “Spread love everywhere you go, let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Heart is to love. She suffered a heart attack from 1983, thereafter constantly faced health issues even after heart surgery. She visited Rome in March 13, 1997 to meet Pope John Paul II for second time. Until her very last illness she was active in travelling around the world to the different branches of ‘The Missionaries of Charity’. Visited different countries even entered the Communists countries had peaceful inter-religious dialogues with all the leaders. Finally she met Princess Diana in New York. Upon returning to Kolkata she spent her few days receiving visitors and instructing sisters, the two died within a week of each other. On 5Th nine days after her 87th birthday and on the eve of Diana’s funeral she breathed her last. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”.
On Mount Calvary Jesus gave up his life and Mother Teresa the mother of the poor, her compassionate soul left for the heavenly abode on September 5th 1997. Her death was mourned by the world over. In 2003 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, since then she has been known as Blessed Mother Teresa. After serving the poor and sick on the streets of Kolkata for 45 years, Mother Teresa will be declared as saint on September 4th 2016 by Pope Francis in the Vatican City. Blessed with profound empathy, unwavering commitment and unshakeable faith right from her childhood days walked the path of Christ spreading peace and love and became an angel of mercy. May her blessings be on all. You live only once…But if you do it right… Once is enough.
Fr. Johnson G. Fernandes OFM. Cap.