A story is told of a priest who was giving a retreat to the
Missionary Sisters of Charity in Calcutta. After a long day, he wanted simply to
go to bed and get some sleep. But he had no sooner laid down than he heard a man
below his window calling out for help. The priest was upset at the unexpected
disturbance and finally got out of bed to tell the man to be quiet. When he
looked out his window, he saw Blessed Mother Teresa, cradling the man in her
arms and saying, "Thank you, Jesus, for coming to me." The priest felt
embarrassed by his reaction.
In her admonitions to her sisters, Mother
Teresa frequently told them to see Jesus "in the distressing disguise of the
poor." We admire her and them for living out that faith and life of service. The
Church holds Mother Teresa up as an example for us to emulate.
But do we? Or
do we excuse ourselves by saying that it's fine for religious but not for
The truth is, no matter what our station in life, it is what God calls us
to do. "Love one another as I have loved you." There are no exceptions tacked
onto that command.
God loves us because He sees His image in us, much like
parents see their image in their child. It's why Jesus told us to call God Our
Father, not just Creator. Jesus wanted us all to remember we are all God's
children, bearing His likeness. That is also why we are to forgive as we are
forgiven. He wants peace in the family.
However, like the Pharisees, we may
ask, "Who is my family member, my neighbor?" Jesus didn't reply with a
genealogy, but affirmed that it was "the one who showed kindness." Then Jesus
added, "Go and do likewise."
Our Lord doesn't mean that we are all to start
looking for people dying along the roadside. However, God does want us to make
an effort to be kind and considerate to everyone we meet for the sake of His
image in them, no matter how hard it may be to see.
The injured man in our
lives might be the panhandler we try to rush past every morning on our way into
work. It may be the smelly kid on the school bus who no one wants to sit near.
It could be the person who steals our parking spot or a work-weary cashier who
doesn't treat us right. There are many injured people all around us, waiting for
the bandage of a kind word.
Some may even be in our own family.
you last react to a disagreeable spouse or a combative teen? Did you treat them
in a way that kept Jesus in mind?
The late singer/songwriter Rich Mullins once said,
"It's not that Catholics honor Mary too much, but that we honor each
other too little."
That could also be applied to ourselves.
There are a great multitude of
evils in this world today. We are not only abusing others; we abuse ourselves.
We eat too much, sleep too little, watch things that fuel impurity, dress in
immodest clothing, skew our priorities and then wonder why we're overweight,
stressed, depressed and mistreated. We are not valuing the image of God
He put there when He created our souls.
Our Father never meant for
us to harm ourselves anymore than He wanted Adam and Eve to sin or Cain to kill
A wonderful example of someone who loved like God loves is St. Joseph.
With his human understanding he could have been furious with Mary and led the
crowd in stoning her. But because He sought to be close to God, he had
compassion on Mary. He recognized that, despite her seeming fall, she was still
a child of God like him. So he gave her mercy and ended up extremely blessed.
Blessed Mother Teresa made a daily decision to see Jesus in others. May we
also remember to show mercy for the sake of the God in Whose image and likeness
we are made.