Energized by the crisp autumn weather this morning, I grabbed my sweater and some socks, along with my purse and my precious writing notebook, threw on my boots (I so love my boots), and drove to the church. We gathered as usual, at first catching up on family matters and updates, and then set about meeting Jesus in the upcoming Sunday’s gospel. We began as usual, with a prayer to invite the Holy Spirit, then read aloud:
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them [a scholar of the law][a] tested him by asking, 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 The second is like it:[d] You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Collectively, our meditations revealed:
- The Pharisees seemed to always have some other motive for coming to Jesus for wisdom; was it so that they could affirm themselves? Rank who was the best among them? Maybe they were trying to trap him as they had done so many other times? Then Jesus gives them an answer they don’t expect. Simply to love. Love God, then each other. Just love.
- The whole law….Everything we do depends on loving God first. I have to have purity of heart and ask for God to help me see others as He sees them, with eyes of love and as each person is His creation. I must also begin by letting Him love me and receiving that love.
- The gospel messages always seem so simple, but they are not always easy. How we live the gospels in daily life can be difficult. We need to try to find God’s love for others in ourselves.
- This message is simple, but it is everything; to love. Love is at the center of everything.
- We must begin every day, right away first thing in the morning, to commit ourselves to God’s priorities. We must fight distractions and really try to listen to Him. Sometimes we create our own distractions for ourselves. There are always things to “do”. We must stop and spend time with God first.
Our case today was “Tiny But Mighty Woman Takes on World Powers.” The case was about St Teresa of Calcutta and the way she went about her ministry to the “poorest of the poor”, in all corners of the world. She found herself dealing with some of the world’s most powerful leaders, and often in oppressed countries, lead by communists and dictators. She would go and meet with the top officials of these countries, and ask if she could establish houses for the sisters to go in and minister to the sick and dying among the poor. Many of the leaders were suspicious and because they oppressed the freedom to practice religion, they thought she was deceptively planning to convert their nations to Christianity. Even in Calcutta where she established her order, The Missionaries of Charity, she was at times charged by Muslims and Hindu groups, who were angry and suspicious of her motives.
Mother Theresa never feared anyone (at least not in any way that was evident to anyone watching). She never spoke fear or worry and assured those around her that there was nothing to fear. Her manner in dealing with authorities was always the same as dealing with any other soul; with love. She would carry around a bag of blessed Miraculous Medals, and use them as peace offerings to those whom she met, including fierce government leaders. She would smile and say very few words, but her love for others shone through everything she did. She would at times invite those officials into her houses for the sick and dying to see the work that was being done, and even have them participate in helping occasionally. Immediately upon meeting Mother Teresa and receiving her offering of the Miraculous Medal, the suspicion of the world leaders melted away and she was permitted to continue her work, and established homes for the poor and dying around the world, and in many communist nations.
In terms of virtue, Charity, was the focus of this case, as it was with Sunday’s gospel. Mother Teresa was so simple in her approach, and when she had someone ask her how they could help her in her ministry, she would instruct them to “Go home” and love their family. The simple love that changes the world begins in our homes, she instructed. If we really want to make a difference in the world, we must begin with those entrusted to us, right in the realm of our own home, office, neighborhood, and where God has placed us.
A “person to person” spirituality works miracles in this world, and especially in our culture where there seems to be a desperation for others to fit in, melt in, fly under the radar, and feel a part of social circles. Overuse of social media and of technology can propagate this feeling of wanting to be a part of something, but without really having a personal connection to anyone. Mother Teresa often pointed to the west as the poorest of nations, because of the epidemic of loneliness (spiritual poverty) that has take hold of our culture. Looking someone in the eyes and expressing concern and love for them as a human being, is the most effective means of enacting Sunday’s gospel message to love God and others, and also the example St. Teresa of Calcutta gave to everyone she met. She was magnanimous in her relationship with God, and love for those who were entrusted to her care.
Theological Virtue: Charity
Human Virtue: Magnanimity
Spiritual Resolution for the week: Meet God in prayer first thing in the morning and along with asking Him to help us order our day according to His will, spend five minutes in meditation and reflection on taking care of the human needs of others the way Mother Teresa did, by seeing Jesus in others. Suggestions for meditation: picture yourself at the foot of the cross as Jesus is being crucified. Contemplate his sacrifice for you; comfort Mary, the Mother of God, as she watches her son suffer. Also: Imagine helping Mary to clean and wrap the wounds of Christ after his crucifixion. (Ideally this meditation will help us see Christ in others, especially when we minister to or care for them).
Apostolic Action: We discussed Mother Teresa’s policy that even when things were hard, she would encourage other’s to “make a smile”. In other words, to stir up joy in ourselves, even if we are not feeling joyful. Our resolution was to be joyfully present to those in our own homes, and be present and attentive in conversations with them, and helping take care of them, while “making a smile” in joyful service to those who God has entrusted to our care.
On my way home, I got into the car and listened to Christian talk radio, and the message was the same; to love those in our own homes first, and joyfully serve our families. I smiled at the way the Holy Spirit always seems to put icing on the “cake” of His message for us. After arriving home, I kicked off my boots. Ironically, I had grabbed socks that morning that my sister had given to me several years ago. I had been talking to my husband when I put them on and didn’t notice they were “inspirational” socks and had messages on them. Still pondering our resolutions for the week, I looked down and on the sides of my feet read the words, “BE PRESENT“. Maybe He thought I wasn’t really present the first time He told me? 😉