Mother Teresa: Her contribution to humanity
Opposed, misinterpreted or misunderstood, Mother Teresa was always dominated by Christ's love for the dignity of every human being. A presence which generated change. The testimony of a Jesuit who met her.
Calcutta (AsiaNews) - Mother Teresa has a universal message, for all mankind, not only for Catholics. And even if at times she had enemies, was misinterpreted, or opposed, she never lost the style of her charity and mission. This is according to Fr. Felix Raj, as we draw near the date proclaimed by Pope Francis for the canonization of the religious sister of Calcutta, next September 4th. Fr. Raj, a Jesuit, rector of St. Xavier's College in Calcutta, personally knew the future saint.
With this reflection we begin a series of articles dedicated to Mother Teresa, to help our readers deepen their participation in the event of Mother's canonization and her mission. In this regard, on September 2, at the Pontifical Urban University, AsiaNews will hold an international symposium, dedicated to "Mother Teresa, mercy for Asia and for the world".
Pope Francis will declare Mother Teresa of Kolkata a saint on September 4, 2016 at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, in Rome. He will declare her a saint of the universal Church, on the day he has set aside for the celebration of the Jubilee for volunteers and workers of Mercy, since Mother is a symbol of God's mercy for the poor and the marginalized of this world.
The canonization of Mother Teresa gives us an opportunity to reflect deeply on her life and mission for the poorest of the poor. Mother has long been a saint. For us in Kolkata, she is the song of celebration, hymn of compassion. The city of Kolkata shall shine in her holiness. I wish and pray that her Sainthood washes away our sinfulness.
Mother believed that God is specially revealed in the mystery of the human person who is 'created in the image and likeness of God' – she probed the meaning of human life and arrived at the radical goodness that resides in every individual.
She has inspired thousands of followers in several nations as well as individuals around the globe. World leaders have recognized her as an inspiration. She was one among us, one among the poor, dying and destitute. She identified herself with them. She demonstrated that a person could live a faith-filled life even when in agony and doubt.
Her message is universal. No matter what religion a person belongs to, or even if they don't believe at all, Mother Teresa's message is to serve with love. “ Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”.
Mother Teresa was misunderstood – critics blamed her for working for conversion. Didn’t Judas, one of the Apostles betray Jesus Christ? In her epic years as a missionary, Mother has not converted a single person to a particular religious faith. She converted many, to the communion of Humanity, beyond considerations of parochial religious culture.
I have had a close association with Mother. On many occasions, I had brought Mother Teresa in touch with Calcutta youth. Whenever I invited her to St. Xavier’s College to address the staff and students, she was there with her characteristic smile, humility and a presence that created an atmosphere of prayer and veneration. She was always inspiring and every time she met the youth, she had a message for them. Whenever I invited her for youth programmes, she never said ‘No’.
About thirty years ago I had met Mother Teresa in Mother House. I had just been ordained as a priest. As soon as she came to greet me she stretched out her hand and touched my feet – I hastily withdrew; she said, ‘you are a new priest and I want your blessing.’ I said ‘who am I in front of you?’ She responded in her humble way ‘as a priest you are the image of Christ to me. So it is you who must bless me.’ When I asked for her blessings she gave me a Rosary and said ‘Pray for me and for my work for the destitute and dying’. I discovered in this lady the divine dispensation that reached the core of my heart. Every word she spoke, every touch and every look exuded a transformative tint.
We are eagerly awaiting the canonization of Mother as Saint. We would have preferred our Holy Father to canonize Mother in the very city where she lived and served. It would have been a momentous gift from the Pope to the people of this country.
Now that the canonization will be officially held in Rome, in St. Peter's Square on September 4, 2016, we express our gratitude to Pope Francis for his extraordinary gesture of approving the canonization of Mother Teresa. The following words of Mother have always inspired me.
The Fruit of Silence is Prayer.
The Fruit of Prayer is Faith.
The Fruit of Faith is Love.
The Fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.