Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mother Teresa's Perseverance

Happy Labor Day weekend, a national holiday since 1894.  Labor Day is an invitation to take pride in our work and to recommit ourselves to doing the best we can.

An ancient wisdom tradition says God sends each person into this life with a special message to deliver, with a special song to sing for others, with a special act of love to bestow.  So whatever your work, do it well!!!  And isn’t that what holiness is about: doing our life’s work as best we can.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus challenges us to make discipleship our first priority.  Jesus cautions us not to naively rush in without gauging the cost.  Discipleship with Jesus is our first priority.  And yes, God will bestow upon us the grace, the power and energy of the Spirit so that we can persevere.  In times of darkness, Jesus is our light; in times of brokenness, Jesus is our healer; and in times of depression, Jesus is our counselor.

There are many examples of perseverance.

Mother Teresa
Pope Francis declared Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint today: a model of perseverance in faithfulness to God, prayer and love.

Born to a devout Catholic Albanian family, she traveled to Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto.  In 1929, she embarked for India, where she entered the Loreto novitiate and then began teaching.

Seventeen years later, enroute to a retreat, Teresa felt the calling to work among the poorest of the poor.  Eventually she left the Sisters of Loreto, studied the basics in nursing and began to care for the poor sick and dying on the streets of Calcutta.

In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity whose numbers expanded to over 4,000 sisters in 123 countries. There is also a male branch of the congregation, and Lay Missionaries of Charity.  Her missionaries continue to minister to the sick and dying in some of the poorest areas in the world. Mother Teresa and her missionaries have touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths.

Mother Teresa showed us holiness. Through a life of prayer despite her own “inner spiritual darkness,” and through a desire to meet people’s basic need for love, she taught us the priority of prayer and service.  This poem which captures for me her life and ministry might be ours as well:
Fortunate are the persons,
Who in this life can find
A purpose that can fill their days
And goals to fill their mind.
For in this world there is a need
For those who’ll lead the rest,
To rise above the “average’ life
By giving of their best!
Will you be one, who dares to try
When challenged by the task,
To rise to heights you’ve never seen,
Or is that too much to ask?

Mother Teresa indeed found purpose, led the rest and gave her best. May God grace us with the energy and power of the spirit to persevere in our life of discipleship with Jesus, like Mother Teresa, so that we can be co-heirs to the kingdom of God.


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