Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Be a Missionary of Love

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
A reflection on Redemptoris Missio

L'Osservatore Romano, April 8, 1991
God is Love. Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16). Like us, in all things except sin—in Jesus, with Jesus and through Jesus we go to the Father.

A missionary must be a missionary of Love. A missionary is one who is sent. God sent his Son. Today God sends us. Each one of us is sent by God and his Church. Sent for what? Sent to be his love among men. Sent to bring his love and compassion among men. We have to carry our Lord to places he has not walked before. In Melbourne, once, the sisters picked up a man from the street. He was an alcoholic with no name, no work, nothing, a real street case. After a week, he came up to the sister and said: "Now I am all right and I am going home. I will never drink again. I have realized God loves me". Then he went back to his home, to his wife, his children and to his work. After a month he returned with his first salary saying: "Use this to show God's love to others like me".

Once a man came to Nirmol Hridoy, Home for the Dying Destitutes, Calcutta. He just walked in—right into the ward. I was there. After a little while he came back and said to me: "I came here with so much hate in my heart, hate for God and hate for man. I came here empty, faithless, embittered and I saw a sister inside, giving her whole-hearted attention to that patient there. I realize that God still loves. Now I go out a different man. I believe there is a God and he loves us still".

In Ethiopia, the Apostolic Delegate told us during the homily at Mass: "I thank you, in the name of the Holy Father because by your presence you are making the Church fully present here". We make the Church present by proclaiming the Good News. What is the Good News? The Good News is that God still loves the world through each one of us. You are God's Good News; you are God's love in action. Through you God is still loving the world. Each time people come into contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us. We must radiate God's love. By our living and working together as God's family, we proclaim that unity in the Church, as well as by working with all people, serving all people, of any religion, colour, caste or race. . . .

On the night before he died—Jesus left us himself in the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine. So is he also present in the distressing disguise of the poor, though in quite a different way.

And he gave us a new commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you".

And to make it easy for us to love, he said: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me"; for I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, unwanted, untouchable,—and you did it to me. I call this the Gospel on five fingers - five words: You did it to me. Jesus cannot tell a lie. In your five fingers you have your love for Jesus. And St. John tells us that "if anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen—cannot love the God he has not seen". Look at your fingers often and remind yourself of this love. . . .

Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and Christ, by his Incarnation, is united with each human person. In the beginning when I first started the work, some people passed remarks that the Church is not made of rubbish. That meant the poor, the sick, the dying, the crippled, the homeless, etc. Now everyone seems to have turned towards what was considered rubbish. Yes, the poor are worthy of respect and human dignity. Human beings cannot become conscious of their own dignity unless they have experienced love. . . .

We need to be pure of heart to see Jesus in the person of the poor, for a pure heart can see God. This purity means that our heart "has to be emptied of all self-seeking, of all sin. Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions—then they will become clear to see Jesus around us. Impurity is present whenever we are proud or bitter, harbouring uncharitable thoughts, words or deeds, unforgiving, jealous or blocked by earthly riches. The people at the time of Jesus rejected him because his poverty threatened their riches. Jesus was sent by his Father to the poor and, to be able to understand the poor, Jesus had to know and experience that poverty in his own body and soul. We too must experience poverty if we want to be true carriers of God's love. To be able to proclaim the Good News to the poor we must know what poverty is. . . .

Let us not make a mistake—that the hunger is only for a piece of bread. The hunger of today is much greater: for love — to be wanted, to be loved, to be cared for, to be somebody.

Feeding the hungry—not only for food but also for the Word of God.
Giving drink to the thirsty—not only for water, but for peace, truth and justice.
Giving shelter to the homeless—not only a shelter made of bricks but a heart that understands, that covers, that loves.
Nursing the sick and the dying—not only of body but also of mind and spirit.

I do not agree with the big way of doing things. To us, what matters is an individual. To get to love the person, we must come in close contact with him. If we wait until we get the numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers, and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person. I believe in a person-to-person relationship. Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, there is only one person in the world for me at that moment. Humility always radiates the greatness and glory of God. Let us not be afraid to be humble, small, helpless to prove our love for God. The cup of water you give to the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way in which you teach an ignorant child, the way you give medicine to a leper, the joy with which you smile at your own at home--all this is God's love in the world today. I want this to be imprinted in your minds: God skill loves the world through you and through me today. We must not be afraid to radiate God's love everywhere. . . .

Charity begins today. Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. Our work is for today, yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come—today, we have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. Today—do not to wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come. Tomorrow we will not have them if we do not feed them today. . . .

Let us pray that we be pure and humble like Mary so that we can become holy like Jesus. All for Jesus through Mary.

God bless you.

Mother Teresa

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