“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
She had left the convent she had spent years praying and teaching in. Suffering from Tuberculosis, she was on a train to Darjeeling with the intent of recuperating and resting. It was on this train that she heard His voice, the voice of God. He ordered her to leave the convent for good, and live among the poor and work with them. And so in just several years time she had started with a school in the slums to teach the children of the poor. And in a couple more the “Home of the Dying” was started under her direction. This woman denied herself all luxuries and comforts in favor of tirelessly helping those in need.
“I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him. It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand.”
She lived by grace. This woman saw suffering every day. She saw injustices the world could never imagine. She held it in her hands. Forgiveness was the only way. “If we really want to love we must learn to forgive.” Hers was a religion of love.
“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers.”
“There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All;
Jesus is my Everything.”
She never loved to convert. Her service to those in need was for no reason but to love them. There was no ulterior motive. Her work was in honor of God, she did not place that on anyone else, or claimed that their way of honoring God was wrong. Every being that she helped held the face of God, every soul she touched was the very soul of Jesus. She understood the need for love, the hunger to be reached out to. God commanded us to go forth and love others as He loves us. And she did just that, simply and honestly and without expectation.
Mother Teresa was an inspiration to the world and an example of how we are to love.
And during all of this, during her love of those who needed love, care for those who needed care, help for the sick and dying, her life as an example of the love of Jesus, Mother Teresa struggled. For shortly after she came to Calcutta to live among the poor, Mother Teresa suffered a feeling of abandonment from the Lord. When once she heard Him speaking to her clear as day, she now heard nothing.
Mother Teresa described this time as “the darkness”. She had known Jesus as her light and her salvation. Yet, she now lived in the darkness. And she struggled with her faith. She feared she might be a hypocrite by telling the world about the love of Jesus, her love for Jesus, when she wasn’t even sure if she still had faith in Jesus. She even asked God for forgiveness for her stumbling faith in her letters, adding as a byline “if there is a God”.
This news came through letters that had been hidden from the world and that were recently made public. And it sent a shockwave through the world. Mother Teresa, the woman who gave such love in the name of Jesus Christ, was not exactly 100% sure of her faith. This made her….
What a relief! I’m human too. And so are countless other Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews……. I’m willing to bet that everyone of faith has lacked faith at least once in their walk, especially those who are active in their faith. How can we not? There are so many unanswered questions in faith, so much that we with our human minds could not possibly comprehend no matter how much we prayed, studied the bible, researched history….. It’s only natural that our faith might take a tumble from time to time, and for some of us, never return.
And yet this crisis in faith is rarely talked about. And if it is, it is never talked about in first person but rather about an “outsider”. No, a real Christian would never question God’s existence. A real Christian would never wonder if Jesus really was the son of God, if he was merely a man that people believed was the son of God? A real Christian would never wonder if Mary had merely gotten herself into a bad situation and created a lie to save herself from a stoning. A real Christian would not have confusion over whose words she was actually reading in the bible: God’s or man’s?
Friends, if this is true, then I am not a real Christian.
You know what I find most admirable about Mother Teresa’s crisis in faith? Even though Mother Teresa felt an absence from God, even though she was not entirely sure He was there, even though she wasn’t sure who it was that ordered her to leave the convent and live among the poor, her life path never changed. She felt like a hypocrite, yet her love for mankind never faltered. She still gave of herself unconditionally, bringing light to those who were in their own darkness. And I can even believe that Mother Teresa, in her darkness, could better understand these lost souls that the world had given up on. I believe that God’s distance from her served his purpose through her.
And I believe that when Mother Teresa moved onto the next world, God revealed Himself to her after all those years of absence, and welcomed his obedient daughter home.