Just a thought: Mother Teresa, small things with great love


Mother Teresa’s selfless earthly life ended at age 87 two dozen years ago on September 5, 1997. She changed her address and went to be with the God whom she had faithfully served throughout her life.

Mother Teresa lived her life modeling the scripture from Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of the least of these, you neglected to do unto me!”

There was not a star in the sky over the hospital when Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhin entered this world on August 26, 1910 in what today is Skopje, North Macedonia. Later known as Mother Teresa, until she turned 18, she had not thought of becoming a nun. But at age 18 she began her religious life in Ireland attending ‘Our Lady of Loreto’ and leaving her family and the only life she had known. She was never to see her mother again.

At age 36 her “second calling” took her to Calcutta, India where she took a unique approach in her ministry by “taking it to the streets” and moving into the slums to serve God among the poorest of poor. Mother Teresa made decisions that impacted the world, one life at a time.

In another humbling move, Mother Teresa decided she would set aside the habit she had worn during her years as a nun and wear the ordinary dress of an Indian woman: a plain white sari and sandals.

Mother Teresa modeled servant leadership each step that she took.

She was once asked about assisting in the creation of a grandiose hospital that would be named after her. Mother Teresa was asked to think about all of the lives that the hospital could help and how all who entered would see her name. Without missing a beat, her response was quick: “God did not call me minister to the millions, but to minister to the one in front of me.” Her concern was not the masses, just to meet the needs of the one in front or her.

God blessed Mother Teresa with many years. Most of us remember her as a small, fragile, older woman who walked slowly. Some of you may have had the honor of meeting her. I watched a movie about her life produced by 20th Century Fox entitled, “Mother Teresa .” It was interesting to see her as a young lady and to see how she “bucked the system” to live among the poor.

Once when she was in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa was tending to a wound on a leprous person when a couple of American tourists came by and saw her bandaging his wound. One tourist asked, “Mother Teresa, can I take your picture?” Without looking up she said, “Sure,” and so the American tourist took the picture. The tourist stepped back and whispered to the other sharing, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Mother Teresa, overhearing the comment, continued to tend to the wound and again without looking up said, “neither would I!”

Mother Teresa just had a different way of looking at life. It wasn’t about what others could do for her, it was about how she could serve God by helping others.

In her talk to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. on February 3, 1994, Mother Teresa opened her comments with words from Matthew 25:35, “On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand,’Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.’ Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, ‘Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, I was sick and you did not visit me.’ These will ask Him, ‘When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?’ And Jesus will answer them, ‘Whatever you neglected to do unto one of the least of these, you neglected to do unto me!’”

She continued later in her talk saying “It is not enough for us to say: ‘I love God,’ but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?”

Later in her talk she shared about one she had ministered to. “Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: ‘You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse.’ So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face.

“She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: ‘thank you’ - and she died.

“I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain,’ or something. But she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face.”

Mother Teresa was a person making a difference, one life at a time. She lived her life one day at a time, ministering to one life at a time.

Up until her death she continued to work with the poorest of poor, depending on God to meet her every need.

My challenge to you today is to learn from the model set for us by Mother Teresa. Who has been placed in front of you for you to meet his or her needs? Each of us has the power to change this world, one life at a time. Is your life about you? Or is it about others?

Humbly downplaying her significance in this world, Mother Teresa described herself as “God’s pencil—a tiny bit of pencil with which He writes what He likes.” What does your pencil write?

As Mother Teresa often shared, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Our world would be a different place if it were packed with Mother Teresas. If our world was packed with people just like you, what would our world be like? Would it be a better or worse world to live in? There is nothing that keeps any of us from adding value to the lives of others as Mother Teresa did, but it happens one choice at a time.

Make your choices carefully, their sum total will be your life...

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.


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