“This is the true meaning of love, to give until it hurts” – Mother Teresa
(TXT MSG) “I need your help, are you busy???”
“What is it?”
“Can I call You???”
(CALL) “I dont have eggs and need a ride to the store to buy some, can you take me?”
It is highly uncommon to wake up one day and prepare for a life changing experience or a moment of truth that will test our ultimate response of love. God usually does not work that way but at the same time He does lay down before us daily opportunities to exercise love. Some are easy to respond too, others are delightful, and others still are tolerable.
As insignificant as our responses may seem at the moment they are little acts of grace that slowly begin to mend a selfless cloth, and as time goes by and encounters increase our loving engagement enlarges the mended form, now becoming an inviting blanket. This wrap of love, eventually made firm, ignites a flame of love in our heart and as virtue would have it, prepares us for those life changing experiences. Before we know it we are standing before our greatest enemy, or the perfect stranger, or a lowly beggar; and almost instinctively our arms are found outstretched with a love inflamed.
This sounds very pious, I know, but I cannot go without adding that it is impossible for a blanket to be mended without first being wounded with an unforgettable needle. It makes its way through every part of our mended life and makes firm our loose ends. Divine pain must first make contact with the soul before that soul can advance in the exercise of love. True love demands a newness of life which first requires death to self.
She, M. Teresa, is our modern powerhouse of love. She genuinely exercised the rawness of what it meant to love until it hurts. How many of us willingly roll up our sleeves and embrace the first leper we encounter with a genuine and warm smile?
Understandably, that is not a common encounter here in the United States. If anything, we are able to give a dollar or two to the poor person on the side of the road. True, the chance to help in that capacity is not readily accessible, and true, monetary charity can be an act of self-giving. True, Mother Teresa is a saint. But were we not given the same call to holiness?
Am I rich? of course not. Do I have the means to feed every person who lacks food? of course not. But you and I have been afforded an indispensable treasure that has a well incapable of running dry. One that was first approached by the Samaritan woman. Jesus in his goodness has created in us the capacity to house the waters of this well and everyone thirsts for its abundance. This gift of love is first Christ’s and only through Him, our inheritance. It is perfect if it is rooted in Him. But it can be the hardest gift to give. Father Grace, in regards to Mother Teresa, said: “She didn’t seem extraordinary. It wasn’t like she glowed in the dark”. The holiness that entrusted her to sanctity was her love, she simply applied it to every ordinary act, duty and encounter and that was enough for canonization.
It is nice to love a pleasant stranger. It is virtuous to love the uninteresting. It is graced to love the unlovable. To initiate love of neighbor is much more precious and meritorious than to respond to a neighbors love. We are not independent of the need for love, we need it just as much as our neighbor. “how does a poor person help another poor person? . . . they come more as a human being, with compassion and the willingness to help in any way.” If we acknowledge that we are not higher than our neighbor but equal in dependence to God then we can aid their needs with greater humility and compassion.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta