Mother Teresa | 6. Love
When a young lady of the upper class chooses to place herself at the service of the poor, it causes an authentic revolution, the biggest, the most difficult one: the revolution of love.
It is very compelling that before Jesus explained God's words, before he explained the beatitudes to the crowd, he felt compassion for them and fed them (Matthew 5).
Only after they were fed did he start to teach them.
True love causes pain.
Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his love, died on the cross.
A mother, in order to give birth to her baby, has to suffer.
If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices.
The poor do not need our condescending attitude or our pity. They only need our love and our tenderness.
To me, Jesus is the Life I want to live, the Light I want to reflect, the Way to the Father, the Love I want to express, the Joy I want to share, the Peace I want to sow around me.
Jesus is everything to me.
If faith is scarce, it is because there is too much selfishness in the world, too much egoism. Faith, in order to be authentic, has to be generous and giving.
Love and faith go hand in hand.
Today countries are concentrating too much on efforts and means to defend their borders:
Yet these countries know so little about the poverty and suffering that make the human beings who live inside such borders feel so lonely!
If instead they would worry about giving these defenceless beings some food, some shelter, some healthcare, some clothes, it is undeniable that the world would be a more peaceful and happy place to live.
I tell my sisters that when we lovingly help Christ in the poor, we do not do it like social workers. We do it like contemplative in the world.
Someone once told me that not even for a million dollars would he touch a leper.
I responded: "Neither would I. If it were a case of money, I would not even do it for two million. On the other hand, I do it gladly for love of God."
I pay no attention to numbers; what matters is the people.
I rely on one. There is only one: Jesus.
I will never tire of repeating this: what the poor need the more is not pity but love. They need to feel respect for their human dignity, which is neither less nor different from the dignity of any other human being.
To help us be worthy of heaven, Christ put as a condition that at our hour of death, you and I, regardless of whom we were (Christians or non-Christians), each human being has been created by the loving hand of God in his own likeness), will stand before God and be judged according to how we have acted toward the poor (Matthew 25:40).
In Christ, who died on the cross for us, we can definitely confirm the fact that suffering can transform itself into a great love and an extraordinary generosity.
To love and to serve the poor presupposes something that has nothing to do with giving them our leftovers, or giving them the food we do not like:
It has nothing to do with giving them the clothes are no longer wear just because the clothes are no longer in fashion or because we no longer like them.
Is this sharing the poverty of the poor? Of course it is not.
There are thousands - millions - of people who die for lack of bread.
There are thousands - millions - of human beings who grow weak for lack of a little love because they would like to be recognized, even if just a little.
Jesus becomes weak and dies in them.
Once more, today and yesterday, Jesus comes to his own and his own refuse to welcome him (John 1:11)
He comes in the broken bodies of the poor.
He also comes in the rich who are drowning in the loneliness of their own riches. He also comes in their lonely hearts, when there is no one to offer them love.
What we say does not matter, only what God says to soul through us.
Good works are links that form a chain of love.
All sicknesses have cures. The only one that cannot be cured is the sickness of feeling unloved.
I invite all those who appreciate our work to look around them and be willing to love those who have no love and to offer them their services.
Are we not, by definition, messengers of love?
Love is the product of every season.
We have been created to love and be loved.
A young man was dying, but for 3-4 days fought to prolong his life.
The Sister there asked him, "Why do you continue this fight?"
"I cannot die without asking forgiveness from my father," he answered.
When his father arrived, the youth embraced him and asked forgiveness.
Two hours later, the young man passed away peacefully.
Do not be afraid of loving to the point of sacrifice, until it hurts.
Jesus' love for us led him to his death.
God pays attention to our love.
Not one of us is indispensable. God has the means to do all things and to do away with the work of the most capable human being.
We can work until we drop. We can work excessively. If what we do is not connected to love, however, our work is useless in God's eyes.
When I visited China in 1969, one of the Communist party's top members asked me, "Mother Teresa, what is a communist to you?"
I answered, "A child of God, a brother, a sister of mine."
"Well," he exclaimed, "you think highly of us. But where did you get that idea?"
I told him, "From God himself. He said, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me'" (Matthew 25:40).
When we opened our first house in New York, his Eminence Cardinal Archbishop Terence Cooke was very worried about the Sisters' living expenses and decided to give them a monthly stipend for this purpose. (I would like to add that Cardinal Cooke loved us very much.)
I did not want to offend him, but at the same time I had to explain to him that we depend on Divine Providence, which has never failed us.
At the end of the conversation, I thought I had come up with the way to communicate this, almost jokingly. "Eminence, do you think that it must be in New York that God has to declare himself bankrupt?"
As far as material means are concerned, we depend totally on Divine Providence.
God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful.
When facing God, results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important.
The lepers, the dying, the hungry, and the ones sick with AIDS: they are all Jesus.
One of our novices was aware of this. She had just entered the Congregation, after finishing her studies at the university. The next day she was supposed to accompany another Sister to help at the Home for the Dying in Kalighat.
Before the left, I reminded them:
"You know where you have to go. During the Mass notice how tenderly and lovingly the priest touches the Body of Christ. Do not forget, that Christ is the same Christ you touch in the poor."
The two Sisters left for Kalighat, and three hours later they returned. One of them, the novice, knocked on my door:
She told me, full of joy, "Mother, I touched the Body of Christ for the last three hours." Her face reflected her deep joy.
"What did you do?" I asked her.
"Right after we arrived," she answered, "they brought us a man covered with wounds:
He had been picked up from the rubble. I had to help take care of his wounds. It took three hours. Therefore, I touched the body of Christ for three hours. I am sure it was him."
That young novice had understood that Jesus cannot deceive us when he assures us: "I was sick and you took care of me" (Matthew 25:36).
"I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).
We are talking about the joy that comes from union with God, from living in his presence, because living in his presence fills us with joy.
When I speak of joy, I do not identify it with loud laughter or with noise. This is not true happiness. Sometimes it hides other things.
When I speak of happiness, I refer to an inner and deep peace, which shows itself in our eyes, on our faces, in our attitudes, in our gestures, in our promptness...
Once I was talking with a priest about the topic of friendships that separate people from God. He confessed to me. "Mother, Jesus is everything for me. I have neither time nor room in my life for other affections."
I realized then why he led so many people to God: he was united to him.
In 1976, by invitation of the president of Mexico, we opened our first home outside of Mexico City. All the areas the Sisters visited in the outskirts of the city were extremely poor.
But the requests of the people surprised the Sisters very much: The first thing they asked for were not clothes, medicines, or food. They only said, "Sisters, talk to us about God!"
God himself guarantees those who believe in him that they will be capable of doing even greater things than the ones he himself did (John 14:12).
I am convinced that as long as the Sisters are faithful to poverty and the Eucharist, and also to the poor, the Congregation will not run into any danger.
Love is, just like Christ himself showed with his death, the greatest gift.
Do not ever allow sadness to take such a hold of your spirit that it leads you to forget the joy of the resurrected Christ.
We all long for God's paradise, but we all have the opportunity to find ourselves in it right here. We only need to be happy with Christ right here and now.
I received a letter from a wealthy Brazilian man. He assured me that he had lost his faith - no just his faith in God but his faith in humanity as well. He was fed up with his situation and everything around him. He only thought about suicide:
One day, walking on a busy street downtown, he saw a television set in a store window:
The program was about our Home for the Dying in Calcutta, and it showed our Sisters taking care of the sick and the dying.
The man confessed that when he saw that, he felt the urge to kneel and pray, after many years of not ever kneeling and praying.
From that day on, he recovered his faith in God and in humanity, and he was convinced that God still loves him.
God has created us so we do small things with great love. I believe in that great love, that comes, or should come from our heart, should start at home: with my family, my neighbours across the street, those right next door. And this love should then reach everyone.
Jesus announced which will be the criteria of the final judgment of our lives:
we will be judged according to love. Judged according to the love we have shown the poor, with whom God identifies: "You did it to me"(Matthew 25:40).