GOD-INCIDENCES WITH MOTHER TERESA
As a fresh graduate, I was thrilled to start the next chapter of my life. Finding a job in the
midst of a pandemic though, not so thrilling. After spending weeks on LinkedIn looking for opportunities and failing miserably, I thought that formatting the appearance of my profile would perhaps better my chances. So I headed to an online design app and after going through their library of cover photo designs, I landed on one with a quote that read ‘Spread Love Everywhere You Go’. ‘Not quite so LinkedIn material’ I thought, but it spoke to me personally. So there it was – my new and upgraded profile.
Whether the aesthetics of a new cover helped me score or not, 2 weeks in, and I was beaming before a new job. A year later, on an ordinary day, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across the same quote I had selected for my LinkedIn cover. This time it jumped with excitement. Those words were spoken by Mother Teresa. Yes, the great Saint I adore for innumerable reasons, a big one being that she considers her ‘true birthday’ to be her Baptism date – August 27th, which happens to be my birthday too! This may seem like a small coincidence to you, but nothing excites me like these little moments, I often call ‘God-incidences’.
Over the years, Saint Mother Teresa has been instrumental in my journey of faith in more ways than one. I want to take the opportunity of her feast day (September 5), to share with you a few reflections on Mother Teresa’s quotes and how these have become for me God-incidence moments.
1. “For love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”
Loving God is easy, loving like Him? Tough! Before God could teach me how to love like Him, He had to first shatter my self-centered notion of love. I claimed to follow Jesus but wasn’t willing to deny myself. Moreover, I had a very distorted if not, inordinate definition of love, seeing it mostly to feed myself than others.
Through Mother Teresa’s life, I discovered that we are created for love, to love, and be loved.
But we often focus only on the latter, expecting to receive our own versions of love, setting standards that we ourselves cannot achieve. But love isn’t really that complicated. As St Thomas of Aquinas puts it so simply, ‘Love is to will the good of another.’ Mother Teresa showed us this benchmark of love. Beginning first with Christ on the Cross and then loving the least in His name.
2. “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
After my personal encounter with Christ, I was so excited to serve God. Consumed with wanting to know my calling and my God-given purpose, I forgot that my mission began first in my own home, right where I was placed.
God has blessed me with an amazing family, but like all families, we have our ups and downs. This quote helped me see how I can be the light my family needs and how change begins the moment I choose, where I choose it. Mother’s life continues to remain a great reminder to the responsibility I have towards my family, to love them, even when it’s the most difficult thing to do.
3. “If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”
It was only during the consecration to St. Joseph that God revealed unknown wounds festering in my heart because of unforgiveness. If only forgiving people (including myself) was as easy as I thought it was.
I realize today that forgiveness is not an instant action but an ongoing journey, a journey that relies heavily on the Breath Of Love – the Holy Spirit.
I had to first identify my wounds, accept that I had still not fully forgiven, talk to Jesus about it, offer the person in prayer and constantly remind myself that Jesus loves him/her.
When I reflect on the life of Mother Teresa, I seem to find more hate on her than love. The ones she cared for the most, criticized her. She was hardly appreciated. But that did not stop her from serving and loving. She taught me that true love serves without keeping record of wrongs. True love fosters forgiveness and healing. How much impact would we have like Saint Teresa if we woke up each morning, with forgiveness, beginning with love to go and serve Jesus in others?
How to love like Jesus in the modern world we may ask? Through the life of this great Saint, we see before us an exceptional example. Whom no man would love, she chose to love. Whom no man would touch, she would serve. She went over and beyond her mission of loving and serving. She gave herself entirely to God first and then to the poorest of the poor, selflessly cleaned the wounds of the lepers and even carried babies from the gutter to her bosom earning the title ‘The Saint of the Gutters’.
4. “When you judge someone, you have no time to love them.”
After encountering Christ, I no longer had any attachments to my old life. Little did I realize though that in striving for holiness, I had become like the Pharisees , clothed with self-righteousness, but cold within. I may have succeeded in keeping the laws but had failed in love.
Jesus tells us in Mark 12:31 ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ But how could I love others when I didn’t know how to love myself? . I saw myself as worthy only when I played by the rules. The moment I gave into sin, guilt and shame took over. Unaware of the high standards I set up for myself, I was now projecting the same on to others. It was only a matter of time, I found myself in a vicious circle of judging both myself and others.
In Mother Teresa, I saw a woman devoted to prayer and the Sacraments.
This was her fuel to survive in a critical world. This was also her power, to find rest in who she was in Christ. Though the world often misunderstood who she was , Mother Theresa found her identity in the Blessed Sacrament. Drawing from His worth, she saw humanity as worthy and beautiful. Through such a reality, there is no time for judgement, is there?
Friend, we all have our share of God-incidences. They come to us through ordinary experiences of life. Sometimes they are brought in our path through exemplary saints who struggled for holiness just like us.
What about you? What from Saint Teresa’s life speaks to you today? Whether directly or not, I can assure you there is a saint in heaven, and certainly not one of darkness, as she would often cite. She is our light, our beacon and our intercessor lifting us up daily so that we can continue to have the reality of Jesus in our lives, our own ‘God-incidence moments’ of True Love.
O humble servant of God, St. Teresa of Calcutta, a true beacon of light that you were, ever-willing to love and serve, pray for us that like you, we too may shine the light of Christ and spread His love wherever we go, especially in places where His love is unknown.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Malaika Dorai had ‘a prodigal daughter comes home’ moment in 2020 after an intimate encounter with Christ. Now confidently bearing her new identity as ‘Daughter of the Beloved’, and living in the true meaning of her name – ‘angel’, Malaika sees her life as a graceful adventure of Christ, coffee and candid conversations. You can find her musing about faith, dreaming about Northern Lights, exploring restaurants and building appetites for the Kingdom in the glamorous country of the United Arab Emirates where she currently resides. Connect with her on Instagram at @gods_ch_ild