Sunday, September 03, 2017

A Lesson from Mother Teresa

As a Christmas present last year, my parish handed out copies of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait  (abridged edition) by Fr. Leo Maasburg. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that it has been sitting in my reading pile since then,  but with her September 5th feast day right around the corner this was the perfect time to read and appreciate this wonderful book. 

Fr. Maasburg was a close associate of Mother Teresa and accompanied her on many trips so that she and her fellow sisters could have a priest to offer the Mass for them. As such, he has many wonderful stories about the saint to share. He testifies to her life of service rooted in prayer, her distribution of over 40,000 Miraculous Medals, her humility, the way she treated everyone from all faith traditions as a child of God, and her work on behalf of unwanted children. 

One could spend a lifetime studying Mother Teresa and attempting to put the lessons she taught into practice, but at this particular time, one lesson stood out to me. Fr. Maasburg shares, “Mother Teresa, as a matter of principle never said a negative word about anyone.” When asked about it, she acknowledged that there was corruption and evil, “but I also know that there is good, and I have decided to see the good.” Fr. Maasburg adds, “Mother Teresa was not so naïve as not to see the evil. Instead it was a deliberate act, a conscious decision to live in love and hope. And it was also a very conscious decision to believe in the good in people.”

Wow! I do try very hard not to engage in gossip, but to never say anything negative about anyone is quite a challenge. This did not mean that Mother Teresa did not speak against evil – she did. What she did not do was attack the person – she separated the act from the person committing it. She trusted that God was the judge and that her job was to love everyone regardless of who they were or what they had done. 

That is definitely something to work on and a goal to aspire to. What if instead of complaining about or judging someone, we prayed for them. What would life look like if we chose to see the good in everyone? What would life look like if we treated every person (starting with those in our own family) as a beloved child of God?

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