The Cost of Discipleship in the Life of Mother Teresa

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Mother Teresa Quote

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Who is your IDOL? Who is the person you truly VALUE in life so much so that you are moved in a special way to do something even by just thinking about him or her? To some, it could be their mother or their father; one’s family in general; an actress or an actor; a known leader like Barrack Obama of the US or even maybe, our very own President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. Whoever they may be, these people influence and inspire us in our endeavors. They become figures, or icons that have become great movers and shapers of our lives.

Such is Mother Teresa to me. Growing up, I have heard wonderful things about her. They call her a “Living Saint” as she exemplified the values of the kingdom even before the cause for her canonization was made. She was glorified by many and yet, she served the least among God’s people. She woke up very early in the morning to start her ministry but slept the latest to make sure that Christ had increased in the eyes of His people through the use of her hands and feet. As Christ is uplifted, she decreased in humility in the service of the least, the last and the lost.

Today, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus reminds us of the cost that we have to pay in terms of discipleship. As He asked us to choose humility from last Sunday’s theme, today, He asks us to move a notch higher by readying ourselves to what’s in store for us as we follow Him. In this light, allow me to share how Mother Teresa had done just that in her lifetime as we give tribute to her canonization to Sainthood.

Three lessons from Mother Teresa that stood out and worth our emulation:

1. Embrace life and live it to its fullest. Mother Teresa is known for telling people to give their best in whatever they do … with a BIG SMILE. No matter how difficult life may be, once we give our best to it, God will do the rest. She once said these words: “Keep giving Jesus to people, not by words, but by your example, by your being in love with Jesus, by radiating his holiness and spreading his fragrance of love everywhere you go. Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength. Be happy and at peace, accept whatever he gives, and give whatever he takes with a big smile. You belong to him.”

Surrendering one’s life is allowing one’s self to be overtaken by God. We no longer live solely on our own, but God lives in us and through us. Life is a gift to be valued and cherished and so live it to its fullest potential.

2. Humility is the “mother of all virtues” and key to holiness. Mother Teresa spoke of the value of humility in spiritual life with these words: “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint, you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”

Hear this testimony from a Missionary of Charity sister (name undisclosed):

“Mother had heard that there were many homeless men sleeping on the streets of London, and she asked to be taken to see them. So one night, Ann Blaikie and I accompanied Mother. Noticing one man in particular, Mother got out of the car and went to him. At first, he took no notice of her presence, but when she took his hand, he looked up and said, ‘It has been a long time since I felt the warmth of a human hand.’ Mother returned to the car and told us, ‘This is a sick man. We cannot leave him on the street like this.’…Then we took [the man] to the Salvation Army.”

All her life as a religious sister, Mother Teresa is a clear model of selfless love as she help the least fortunate people mostly without any resources to tend for themselves. She does all these things without desiring accolades or awards (though she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize) and always desiring to do everything out of love for God and others.

Mother Teresa Quotes

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3. Faithfulness in Love. In Calcutta, India, there is a children’s home named Shishu Bhavan (Children’s Home), founded by Mother Teresa. The home continues to be operated by her community, the Missionaries of Charity. On the wall of the home hangs a sign which reads:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,
SUCCEED ANYWAY
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
BUILD ANYWAY
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY

Mother Teresa counsels her young charges that the challenges offered by this sign can be met only if human beings are motivated by a love and a respect for one another which looks beyond faults, differences, ulterior motives, success and failure. Mother Teresa once said of herself, “By blood and origin, I am all Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the whole world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.” (A Simple Path, Ballantine Books, New York: 1995).

Mother Teresa was a beacon of the light of Christ, and she brought this light into some of the darkest parts of the world. And as a result, it shown brightly.

We can continue her legacy by following her request, “Let’s do something beautiful for God.”

Mother Teresa Quote

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