Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Overshadowed by the death of Princess Di five days earlier, one of the godliest servants of the Kingdom of God, Mother Teresa, quietly passed away on September 5, 1997. Shying from public attention, Teresa could scarcely avoid the recognition that she would gain from the politicians, the news media, and various honorary societies—and for good reason. From humble origins, this Albanian teenager left her home in Skopje, Macedonia to train as a nun with the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin, Ireland. From there she would find her way to Calcutta where she taught at a convent school for girls. Aware of the abject poverty beyond the cloister walls, Teresa gained consent to start an open-air school for slum children. In 1950, she received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, Missionaries of Charity, with a vision to love and care for the unloved. Fifteen years later, by decree of Pope John Paul VI, Teresa began expansion of her Catholic order across the globe—even into the former Soviet Union.
As her work touched countless lives overlooked by society, Teresa garnered awards and distinctions that resulted in monetary prizes and honorary doctorates—the most notable being that of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Graciously declining attendance while thankfully receiving each and every recognition and gift, Teresa would promptly transfer all of her prize funds to her charities. She was never judgmental toward such privileged institutions nor to others who possessed much material wealth. In fact, when asked by a reporter at the grand opening of the Missionaries of Charities’ NYC Home (for AIDS patients) what she thought of America’s materialistic culture, her response was that of compassion. She told the reporter that she felt sorry for those with much wealth. Astonished, he asked, why? Her response: It is a lonely life. Here’s a quote from her book, Mother Teresa, In My Own Words (p91):
As far as I am concerned, the greatest suffering is to feel alone, unwanted, unloved. The greatest suffering is also having no one, forgetting what an intimate, truly human relationship is, not knowing what it means to be loved, not having a family or friends.
Today, Mother Teresa’s legacy lives on with expanded relief work to refugees of natural disasters, epidemics, and famines. Establishing care houses in rich and poor nations across the globe, Missionaries of Charity also serves shut-ins, addicts, homeless, and (as mentioned above) AIDS sufferers. Although Mother Teresa was never a biological mother, this world changer’s godly example of serving the “unseen” shines brightly on the landscape of society as an apt tribute to our Mother’s Day celebration. Happy Mother’s Day to all who have the heart of a mother!