Have you ever had the experience where you felt like you were supposed to meet someone, but then they died before you got the chance? I have always felt like that about Mother Teresa (or St. Teresa of Calcutta). While I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, I have equally been a go-getter and from the time I was young, there were things I wanted to see, do and experience and I was convinced those things would be accomplished. Years later, as an adult, many of those things I have seen, done, and experienced, but one of those that I never did get to do and still wish so badly I had, was to meet Mother Teresa.
Having read many books and heard stories of the life of Mother Teresa, I was enchanted by this tiny little nun who brought Jesus to every single person she encountered. The beauty of the love she held for Jesus and others seemed to permeate every part of her. It seemed to spill out on all those who had the great fortune of seeing her, meeting her, or talking with her. Not a single soul who met her could deny her indescribable beauty and yet from worldly standards she was so the opposite-- she was short, wrinkled and hunched over.
What was it that made this woman of calcutta so beloved of the world? Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and Hindu’s alike had a deep respect and love for her. What was it that could hold people captive in her presence?
I believe It was Love. LOVE. Love Himself Who had taken up residence in her heart, in every fiber of her being. She radiated Love. You couldn’t come into her presence without knowing you were deeply loved.
But one of my favorite things about her was how practical she was. “Spread love everywhere you, let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” “ It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.” “Whatever you do for your family, your children, your husband, your wife, you do for God.”
Guys-- she was so beautiful because she LOVED! It’s so easy to think that in order to be a great saint we have to go be a foreign missionary in a far off land, or be a priest, or nun, or do something radical. But the simplicity of the lessons we learned from this great Saint is if we want to become GREAT. If we want to become HOLY, we do this by living in the here and now, by loving those who are in front of us today, by loving those closest to us, in our homes, our brothers, sisters, parents, roommates, our husbands, wives, our children, and co-workers. We become saints by loving whoever is in front of us in this moment.
So simple, but how often we do not do it? What did it look like for Mother Teresa to live love daily in this way? When she saw someone, she saw Jesus in them. When she encountered a person, she encountered Jesus in them. How we would change our day to day interactions with others if we truly recognized that it was Jesus standing in front of us? Or that we have the great privilege of bringing Jesus to others? To our families, our friends, our business partners…
Mother Teresa, like Our Lady, lived her life in such a way that she brought Jesus to every single person. The beauty of that statement is that means every single one of us can become saints. Every single one of us can bring Jesus to those around us. We are ALL called to be missionaries, we are all called to be His hands and feet. We are all called to find our own Calcutta and to both bring and encounter Jesus there.
One of my favorite prayers is to ask Our Lady to let me be her and Jesus’s heart, hands, voice, smile, eyes, touch, and love to every single person I have ever encountered, to every person I meet today and every person I will meet in the future. If we can invite Jesus and Our Lady into every part of us and our lives, then perhaps our husbands, children, boyfriends, families, co-workers, random people on the street will have an opportunity to meet Jesus in a way that they never have before.
This week as we celebrate Mother Teresa’s feast day on Sept. 5 and Our Lady’s birthday on Sept. 8, let’s ask Jesus to show us how to enter into our own Calcutta with His love and for the grace to bring Him to every person we meet and receive Him through others.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!