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Mother Teresa | 4. Generosity

4. Generosity

"Without a spirit of sacrifice, without a life of prayer, without an intimate attitude of penance, we would not be capable of carrying our work."

We feed ourselves, not to please our senses, but to show our Lord that we want to work for him and with him, to live a life of sacrifice and reparation.

I believe it was Saint Vincent de Paul who used to say to those who wanted to join his congregation: "Never forget, my children, that the poor are our masters. That is why we should love them and serve them, with utter respect, and do what they bid us."

Do you not believed that it can happen, on the other hand, that we treat the poor like they are a garbage bag in which we throw everything we have no use for?

Food we do not like or that is going bad - we throw it there.

Perishable goods past their expiration date, and which might harm us, go in the garbage bag: in other words, go to the poor. An article of clothing that is not in style anymore, that we do not want to wear again, goes to the poor.

This does not show any respect for dignity of the poor; this is not consider them our masters, Like Saint Vincent de Paul taught his religious, but to consider them less than our equals.

One night, a man came to our house to tell me that a Hindu family, a family of 8 children, has not eaten anything for days.

They had nothing to eat.

I took enough rice for a meal and went to their house. I could see the hungry faces, the children with their bulging eyes. The sight could not have been more dramatic!

The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out. When she came back a little later, I asked her: "Where did you go? What did you do?"

She answered, "They also are hungry."

"They" were the people next door, a Muslim family with the same number of children to feed and who did not have any food either.

That mother was aware of the situation. She had the courage and the love to share her meagre portion of rice with others. In spite of her circumstances, I think she felt very happy to share with her neighbours the little I had taken her.

In order not to take away her happiness, I did not take her anymore rice that night. I took her some more the following day.

Some years ago Calcutta experienced a great shortage of sugar. One day, a boy about 4 years old came to see me with his parents. They brought me a small container of sugar.

When they handed it to me, the little one told me: "I have spent 3 days without eating sugar. Take it. This is for your children."

The little one loved with an intense love. He had expressed it by a personal sacrifice.

I repeat: he was no more than 3-4 years old. He could hardly say my name. I did not know him; I had never seen him before. Nor had I met his parents. The boy made that decision after he found out, from the grownups, about my situation.

What is a Christian?” someone asked a Hindu man. He responded, "The Christian is someone who gives."

I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving, but do not give your leftovers. Give until it hurts, until you feel the pain.

Open your hearts to the love God instils in them. God loves you tenderly. What he gives you is not to be kept under lock and key, but to be shared.

The more you save, the less you will be able to give. The less you have, the more you will know how to share.

Let us ask God, when it comes time to ask him for something, to help us to be generous.

If one gives a little bit of rice to a poor person in India, that person feels satisfied and happy. The more in Europe do not accept their poverty, and for many it is a source of despair.

It was late in the day (around 10 a.m.) when doorbell rang. I opened the door and found a man shivering from the cold.

"Mother Teresa, I heard that you just received an important prize. When I heard this I decided to offer you something too. Here you have it: this is what I collected today."

It was little, but in his case it was everything.
I was moved more than by the Nobel prize.

One day a young couple came to our house and asked for me. They gave me a large amount of money.

I asked them, "Where did you get so much money?"

They answered,

"We got married two days ago. Before we got married we had decided not to celebrate the wedding, not to buy wedding clothes, not to have a reception or a honeymoon. We wanted to give you the money I saved."

I know what such a decision meant, especially for a Hindu family.

That is why I asked them, "But how did you think of such a thing?"

"We love each other so much," they answered, "that we wanted to share the joy of our love with those you serve."

To share: what a beautiful thing!

We should learn how to give.

But we should not regard giving as an obligation, but as a desire.

I usually say to our Co-Workers:

"I do not need your surplus. I do not want you to give me your leftovers. Our poor do not need your condescending attitude nor your pity. The poor need your love and your kindness."

If we worry too much about ourselves, we won't have time for others.

Not long ago I received a beautiful letter and a sizable donation from an Italian child who had just made his first Communion:

In his letter he explained that before he made his first Communion, he had asked his parents not to buy him a special suit, nor to have a party to celebrate the occasion. And he also said he has told his relatives and friends not to give him any gifts:

He would give everything up in exchange for the money they would have spent in order to send it to Mother Teresa.

It was a beautiful demonstration of generosity by the child.

I saw in it the ability to sacrifice, to deprive himself of something.