The Saint of the Gutters

As the world stood still on the 4th of September, watching the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata live from the Vatican, it was a proud moment for all of us living here in Kolkata. Apart from the celebrations that have started around a month ago and will continue for the next couple of months, we as Christians feel overwhelmed to have our very own Mother Teresa up there in heaven to plead for our cause.

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

I still remember the day our Sunday Class teacher (one of the Missionaries of Charity sisters) decided to take us to visit the Mother House, the residence of St. Teresa of Kolkata then. As we waited in the parlour, we saw a small-statured lady coming out to greet us with a lovely smile. Our young minds did not conceive that one day, this stooped down figure would have a halo around her head. Just like any other old nun, she blessed us and we were happy to return with our prized possessions – blessed medals for each of us.

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

Though we grew up in the same city where Mother lived, little did we realize the enormous work that she did, not only for the city but for the world at large. From taking care of orphans to looking after the dying destitute, she did it all – not for any name, fame or money but only for love. Picked up from dustbins, these orphans now have homes. The lepers and the sick have people to take care of them. The dying can now have a dignified death and funeral. The work that Mother Teresa did, gives us a great example of how to love – the same love which made the Father send His only begotten Son and the love of the Son that made Him shed even the last drop of His blood just to save us.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

She always worked with the ‘poorest of the poor‘, but she also realized the real poverty in people who hunger and thirst for love more than material food and drink.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

There is so much to learn from this great Saint of our times – most importantly expressing our love to the poorest of the poor. Her immense love for the poor made her touch them, hug them, love them from the core of her heart, apart from giving them material goods. Her simplicity was the most attractive attribute that has inspired me. I learnt that one does not need to wear expensive clothes or apply a lot of makeup to look beautiful. It’s only when we allow the love of God to flow through us, that the true beauty in us is revealed. The humility of Mother Teresa, like that of our Mama Mary, made God exalt her to sainthood. She is the true example of a saint emerging from a sinful world – the same world that we live in.

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Like her, we too can hope to become saints in our own little ways, starting by serving our families; making small sacrifices, showing little gestures of love in our day to day life. To live out this life of service and love, our inspiration, St. Teresa of Kolkata will definitely assist and intercede for us. However, for me and all of us in Kolkata, she will always remain our very own Mother Teresa inspiring us with her Simple Path:

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

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