Mother Teresa a great missionary of the modern world, must read – Dr Jayanand
Mother Teresa walked with Jesus to become a great missionary and the living saint of the modern world was born in 1910, in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia. The following day, she was baptised as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, were of Albanian descent; her father was an entrepreneur who worked as a construction contractor and a trader of medicines and other goods. The Bojaxhius were a devoutly Catholic family. From this family, God raised Mother Teresa to show His love to the poorest of the poor in this world.
Before Agnes became Mother Teresa, everyone knew her as Agnes. She attended a convent-run primary school and then a state-run secondary school. As a girl, she sang in the local Sacred Heart choir and was often asked to sing solos. The congregation made an annual pilgrimage to the Church of the Black Madonna in Letnice, and it was on one such trip at the age of 12 that she first felt a calling to a religious life. Six years later, in 1928, an 18-year-old Agnes Bojaxhiu decided to become a nun and set off for Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
In May of 1931, she made her First Profession of Vows. Afterwards she was sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary’s High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto Sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families. Sister Teresa learned to speak both Bengali and Hindi fluently as she taught geography and history and dedicated herself to alleviating the girls’ poverty through education. On May 24, 1937, she took her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. As was the custom for Loreto nuns, she took on the title of “Mother” upon making her final vows and thus became known as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa continued to teach at Saint Mary’s and in 1944, she became the school’s principal. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to Christ.
However, on 10th September 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling, the “call within a call” that would forever transform her life. She was travelling in a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling along the Himalayan foothills for a retreat when she said Christ spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to show the Love of God to the poorest of the poor who are neglected by the people of this world. Jesus, who called her, was with her and guided her to devote herself to care for the sick, blind, aged, disabled, lepers, destitute, HIV/AIDS patients and the poorest of the poor. Her Mission began in Calcutta and within 50 years of her service to Jesus, centres for Missionaries of Charity were opened all over the world. People from all faiths loved and respected her because of her service. Many people said that even if they were given a million dollars, they would never do the work that Mother Teresa does. And in reply, Mother Teresa would say, “When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself.” And that is why the government of India honoured her with Bharat Ratna – the Jewel of India award – and when she died, her body was taken on the same military carriage which was used to carry Mahatma Gandhi’s body.
Mother Teresa was a Divine Star
When Jesus was born, the star showed the way to the wise men and they were overjoyed and worshiped Jesus and went with great joy, peace, happiness and blessings (Math 2:10-11, Luke 2:20). Today millions of people do not know Jesus. They are living in sin, sickness, sorrow, broken in heart, depressed, disappointed have become slaves to drinks, drugs, pornography, bad habits, filled with hate, vengeance, grudges, anger, lust, evil and wickedness in their hearts and minds. Some are the poorest of the poor and destitute. We need a star to direct them to Jesus. Mother Teresa was truly a divine star not only for the Christian community but to the whole world and to the people of all faiths, leading them to experience the true love of God. Mother Teresa suffered and sacrificed her life to bring blessings to millions of suffering people around the world. Thousands of poor people before dying said to Mother Teresa that although they had not seen Jesus, they are seeing Jesus through her.
Mother Teresa’s heart touching words
• Love is doing small things with great love for God.
• I believe in love and compassion.
• Because we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to him, but our neighbours we can always see, and we can do to them what if we saw him we would like to do to Christ.
• Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person.
• Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
• We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.
Faith is your lifeline to Jesus. If you Lose your faith in the Lord, and you will lose all contact with Him.
• There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognise it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.
• It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.
• I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?
• I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness.
• God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful.
• Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.
• If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Mother Teresa’s Awards
Mother Teresa received hundreds of awards around the world few of them are follows. In August 1962, the President of India gave the Padmashree Award. In February 1965, Pope Paul VI bestowed the Decree of Praise upon the Missionaries of Charity. In September 1971, she received John F Kennedy International Award from the USA. In November 1972, she received Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. In March 1980, she received the Bharat Ratna – the Jewel of India award. In November 1983, she received Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth. In August 1987, she received Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee. In June 1997, she received United States Congressional Gold Medal.
At the age of 87 on September 5, 1997, she left to heaven to be with Jesus forever & ever and also to receive the crown of righteousness (2Timothy 4:7-8 ). In October 2003, she was beatified to be called Blessed and on 4th September 2016, Pope Francis will be canonising Mother Teresa as a saint.
The world may say she is really great to receive hundreds of awards but Mother Teresa said, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
What can we learn from Mother Teresa’s life
God looks for faithfulness in little things. Mother Teresa was working very hard as a teacher and then as a principal of Saint Mary’s school. In 1 Kings 19:19-21, we read of Elijah calling Elisha. Elisha was working hard in the fields with his oxen when Elijah called him. Notice that first of all God always calls those who are working hard and are faithful in their secular occupations. Moses was faithfully looking after his father-in-law’s sheep when God called him. David was looking after sheep and fighting with lions and bears. Amos was a hardworking herdsman. Peter, James, John and Andrew were hardworking fishermen. Matthew was sitting at the table working on his accounts. We never see anywhere in the Old Testament or the New Testament that God called a lazy man to His service.
We don’t find Elijah going to Elisha’s house when he was fast asleep and calling him there – because we would have thought he was a lazy man. Jesus also never went to Peter’s house in the evening to call him. He called him when he was fishing. All these examples show us that God wants us to be faithful and hardworking in our secular jobs before He can call us to serve Him. If you are not faithful in earthly matters, how can you be faithful in heavenly matters? If you are young and still living at home, then be a faithful son or daughter to your parents.
Notice secondly that all these men dropped everything and went as soon as God called them. We see that with Peter, John and Matthew and also here with Elisha. God calls those who will respond to His call immediately and wholeheartedly. They may seek to confirm God’s call in their lives with godly people in order to be certain that they are not acting on their own emotional feelings. But once they are sure, they act quickly. God can use only such people to serve Him because His service requires instant obedience, total commitment and hard work.
Mother Teresa, as a teacher and the principal through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, also lead the students to a life of devotion to Christ. Education may help us shine in this world but devotion to Christ will lead us to shine in Eternal life. God tests us in our secular occupations to see whether we are faithful. If you are asked to clean a room and you are careless about the way you do it or you are not bothered about it, I doubt if God will ever call you to serve Him. Because, if that’s the way you clean up a room that will probably be the way you clean up your heart, mind, your family as well. How then can God use you to build His Kingdom and clean up His church? It is faithfulness in the little things that God looks for.
In the old covenant, the emphasis was always on the external “because of the hardness of men’s hearts” (Matt. 19:8). The law emphasised cleanliness in the external. The new covenant, in contrast, emphasised cleanliness “inside the cup” first (Matt 23:25,26). Jesus said in that verse (v. 26) that once the inside was cleansed, the outside would automatically become clean so that there would be no need to clean the outside at all. One can see this clearly from Matt 5:21-30 – If one has cleansed his heart from anger, there would be no danger of his committing murder externally. Likewise, if he has cleansed his heart from sexually dirty thoughts, there would be no danger of his committing adultery externally. Clean the inside of the cup and the outside will automatically become clean. Our emphasis primarily lies on the externals like avoiding smoking, drinking, taking drugs, gambling etc. The way to get rid of external evil is not by concentrating on them first but rather on the internal worldly attitude of the mind and heart which produce the evil.
Suffering brings blessings
By God’s grace, I was very close to Mother Teresa. Every time I used to meet her to take blessings, she used to tell me, “Son, you are doing a wonderful work by bringing people to Jesus. Continue to do it. My prayers are always with you.” Many times, when I used to give retreats to her sisters in her house in Calcutta, even Mother Teresa used to attend the retreat. She always used to sit on the floor in the chapel. During the prayer time, I used to sit next to her on the floor. Every time I used to see her feet I used to think of Isaiah 52:7 – “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, peace and salvation and glory to God”. Truly her feet were most beautiful in the sight of God.
Mother Teresa suffered and sacrificed her life to bring blessings to millions of suffering people around the world and made the world realize that life is a preparation for eternity. Our life in this world is a preparation for eternal life. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven forever. One day our heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of our body, but not the end of us. We may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but we are going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until we figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems – you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in our character than our comfort. God is more interested in making our life holy than He is in making our life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in the likeness of Christ.
No matter how good things are in our life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in our life, there is always something good we can thank God for. We can focus on our purposes or we can focus on our problems. If we focus on our problems, we are going into self-centeredness, which is “my problem, my issues, my pain”. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get our focus off ourselves and onto God and others. Job suffered a lot but even in the midst of all types of suffering, he did not lose faith in God. Job focused his mind and heart on God and not on his sufferings; the end result of his faith in God brought healing to his body, restoration of his wealth in double portion, God blessed him with most beautiful children to enjoy a very happy married and family life with divine protection. (Job 42:12-17). We have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad in life. We need to ask ourselves – Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes for my life?
Mother Teresa lead the people to PRAISE GOD during Happy moments, SEEK GOD during Difficult moments, WORSHIP GOD during Quiet moments, TRUST GOD during Painful moments and THANK GOD Every moment. The great need among God’s people has always been for godly leaders. Jesus looked out at the multitudes in His day and saw them as sheep without a shepherd. He told His disciples to pray that God would thrust forth shepherds into the midst of His people (Matt 9:36-38). When God looks at the churches and families across the world today, He sees the same need for godly leaders and godly parents. The challenge that comes to us then is to satisfy the heart of God in our generation by being the type of men and women that He is looking for.
In every generation, God needs godly leaders. We cannot depend on the wisdom of the leaders of previous generations. David could not rule over Israel forever. He would die and someone else would have to take over. What would become of Israel depended on the type of person that the next king would be. God raises up a godly person to start a work in one generation. He becomes old and dies. Will the leaders in the next generation have only the founder’s knowledge and his doctrines but not his godliness and his knowledge of God? Then the people will certainly go astray. So shall we pray and ask Jesus to make us and our family members living saints like Mother Teresa, like other saints, like prophets and like apostles to build His kingdom.
Jesus said Go to the ends of the world and preach the Gospel to all creation (Mathew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-20), and Pope John Paul II said that every Christian is a successor of Jesus Christ and must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said harvest is plenty but the reapers are few. Are we serious about the calling or are we busy in our own world?