Mother Teresa -Saint of the Poorest of the Poor

The turning point of Mother Teresa’s life came on September 10, 1946, when she was 36 years old and was travelling by train to Darjeeling. During this train journey, she received an inner calling from Jesus reminding her of the purpose of her existence.

Mother Teresa -Saint of the Poorest of the Poor

By K. L. Joseph

“By blood, I am Albanian. By Citizenship, I am Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic Nun. As to my calling, I belong to the World. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”  Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa of Calcutta

5th September, 2021 will be the 24th Death Anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa, previously known as Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje (Yugoslavia) – now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia – on August 26, 1910. She was the youngest of the three children to her parents Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was 8 years old, placing the responsibility of looking after the children on her mother’s shoulders.

Teresa’s mother was an inspiration to her. At the age of 18, when Teresa left home to commence her life as a missionary, the advice of her mother resounded in her, “Put your hand in His (Jesus) hand, and walk alone with Him. Walk ahead, because if you look back, you will go back”. Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu became a Nun on May 24, 1937 and since then she became Mother Teresa and she never looked back.

The turning point of Mother Teresa’s life came on September 10, 1946, when she was 36 years old and was travelling by train to Darjeeling. During this train journey, she received an inner calling from Jesus reminding her of the purpose of her existence. It was a call within her vocation asking her to step into the filthy streets of Kolkata to serve the poorest of the poor. That journey compelled her to give up everything as per the divine calling of Jesus and she stepped into the streets of Kolkata to dedicate her entire life for the poor, sick, orphans, lepers, blind and physically disabled people, who lived in filth, abject poverty and deceases. She fought against poverty. The destitute and the poorest of the poor people, who were in need of food, shelter and care and were almost driven to the verge of death, thus found a savior in the spare and wiry figure of Mother Teresa in the white sari with blue stripes. This was God’s plan and Mother Teresa lived it with love and extraordinary will.

Mother Teresa had some extraordinary experience in her life to share with. When she was awarded Nobel Peace Prize on the 10th December, 1979 in the Aula of the University of Oslo, Norway, she said in her acceptance speech, “I had an unforgettable experience with a Hindu family, which had eight children. One day, a gentle man came to our house and said, ‘Mother Teresa, there is a poor family with eight children: They have not eaten for so long; do something.’ So, I took some rice and went there immediately. There I saw the mother and the little ones’ faces and eyes had a famished look from sheer hunger. I do not know if you have even seen hunger. But I have seen it very often.’ She took the rice and divided it into two, leaving some for her family and she went out with the rest. When she came back I asked her; where did you go, what did you do? And she gave me a very simple answer, ‘They are hungry also’. What struck me most was that she knew –and who are they? The next door neighbor, a Muslim family. They were also hungry. She gave the rice to them. I did not bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing”

When the Son of Man comes as King (Matt.25. 31-46), Mother Teresa will not come under His judgement for she did everything for the least of the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. She fed the hungry; quenched the thirsty; received the strangers and welcomed them into her homes; clothed the naked; took care of the sick and nursed them in her homes and visited them in their prison.

Mother Teresa was also a living testimony of glowing honesty in her life. She did not misuse the charity funds she received. She never travelled in the 1st class using the charity funds donated to her. It was J.R. D Tata who ordered that whenever Mother Teresa travelled by Air India, she would always be accommodated in the first class free of charge to any place, wherever the flights were scheduled. He had also ordered that when she left the plane, she was to be given all available sweets and chocolates for the children she looked after.

Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 to help the sick, orphans, lepers, AIDS Victims, abandoned elderly and mentally challenged people. Mother Teresa also had set up a home for the dying destitute. Poorest of the poor children picked up from the streets with no one to take care of them were given education by Mother Teresa, apart from feeding the homeless. Today her foundations and sisters are doing a yeoman’s service, in as many as 123 countries spread across the world! St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor, whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?

Her death on the 5th September, 1997 sent shock waves across the breadth and length of India and Kolkata in particular. The news of Mother Teresa’s death also shocked the world. Mother Teresa once said: “It is not enough for us to say: I love God “, but I also have to say the same to my neighbour.

Before the Church had officially canonized Mother Teresa as a saint on the 4th September, 2016, she had already occupied the place of sainthood before the eyes of the people through her selfless and great philanthropic and humanitarian services to mankind and so she was called a ‘living saint’.

(Missionaries of Charity celebrate September 10 as Mother Teresa's Inspiration Day)

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