Like most people who have any sense, I think Mother Teresa was a pretty awesome lady. The Catholic Church clearly agrees with me, since she was beatified in 2003, which is step 3 towards sainthood. I’m pretty sure she’s partying with Jesus right now.
Not to mention, she was adorable.
The above quote was introduced to me in August during a training at work about “Peace Every Day.” Of an entire list of quotes about peace, this one really stuck with me. Now I’m not someone who is constantly talking about peace or anti-war by any means. Do I think peace is a great idea? Yes. Do I think it’s achievable with the current state of the world? No. But that’s not really what this blog is about.
The part that really sticks with me is “we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
I think this is what Jesus was talking about in Mark 12: 28-31,
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.e30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’f31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’g There is no commandment greater than these.”
Now Jesus didn’t just mean your actual neighbor. I mean, we’ve got really nice neighbors, but I don’t think that He meant to limit this term by proximity. Jesus wants us to love our fellow man. We’re all family through Him. We belong to each other through Him.
Am I always a nice person? No. Do I get annoyed with people and not want to love them? Yes, of course. But I am really trying to focus on loving everyone. What better way to be “Jesus with skin on” (as Pastor Ben used to say) than to show friends, strangers, whomever an unselfish love?
This is one of the things that I love most about my job. I’m the first person that people see when they walk in the door, whether it is families who go to our school or ones who are touring to see if they would like to join. As such, I am the first relationship they begin to build. What is fun for me, and what I think fulfills a need for people, is that I get to be the one they tell all about their families. I’m often the first to hear about new homes, new family members and achievements. And I get genuinely excited for these triumphs in their lives. I’m also usually the first to hear about troubles, sickness and deaths in the family. And I grieve with them. God gave me an ability to empathize with people. Sometimes I think it’s a gift, other times I think it might be a curse (joking, but really sometimes I can’t control my emotions). But I do think it’s one way that God has given me to love them. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want someone to take a genuine interest in their lives?
Plus I get to love on my 100 or so kids and try to be a positive influence in their lives.
Now I’m no Mother Teresa. She loved people in a very tangible way, giving her entire life to the service of the poor. But she understood that we can not and should not limit those we love to just those we are familiar with. She said “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an 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.”
I look around at the people in my life and am deeply touched by the ways God has called them to love people. We have family and friends who do missionary work, work with orphans, volunteer in various ways, sponsor children, donate to charities, etc.
But at the end of the day, whether you’re a Christian or not, don’t you think we could make the world a better place if every once in a while we remembered that we belong to each other? And the love we show each other today could make all the difference in a person’s life? Even if it is as simple as holding a door for a stranger or asking, with genuine interest, how someone is doing, we can all show love in our own small ways.