Today is the liturgical memory of the woman who dedicated her life to the poorest of the poor. Pope Francis elected her patron saint of voluntary work. A solemn mass celebrated in the Generalate of the Missionaries of Charity. Monsignor D’Souza: "Like Mother Teresa, we recognize the face of Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters".
Calcutta (AsiaNews) - "Mother and Teacher" of the Church: This is how Archbishop of Calcutta, Msgr. Thomas D’Souza, defines Mother Teresa, on the day of the saint’s liturgical memory and 22nd anniversary of her death. This morning he presided over a Mass in the Generalate of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, a congregation founded by the "Mother of the Poor". At the end of the solemn celebration, the faithful paid tribute to the saint, declared patron of voluntary service by Pope Francis during the mass for her canonization on September 4, 2016, placing flowers on her grave and singing hymns. Below the text of the Archbishop's homily (translation by AsiaNews).
Dear brothers and sisters,
In 1961, St. Pope John XXIII wrote an encyclical on the role of the Church in working towards building an authentic community in order to promote human dignity, and he called it“Mater et Magistra” — Mother and Teacher — referring to the Church.
I would like to apply this title”Mater et Magistra” — Mother and Teacher to a true daughter of the Catholic Church, St. Teresa of Calcutta. She was ‘Mother’ evoking tenderness, love and care. That is why Pope Francis in his homily on the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta three years ago, , said: ”Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: May she be your model of holiness. I think, perhaps, we may have some difficulty in calling her “St. Teresa”: her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her ‘Mother Teresa’ ”. We spontaneously call her “Mother”, for she has given to all, especially the poorest of the poor, the tender love of a mother, the gentle touch of a mother, the affectionate care of a mother.
Mother Teresa was also a “Teacher”. Soon after her First Religious Profession in the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1929, she was appointed teacher in St. Mary’s School, Entally, Calcutta, a vocation she carried out with great efficiency till she founded the Missionaries of Charity” and went to the slums to be Jesus’ light to all those whose lives and homes were covered by a variety of darkness .
What is the secret of St. Teresa of Calcutta becoming a ‘Mother’, a ‘Teacher’ and a ‘Saint’? The answer to this question lies in the three readings that we heard a while ago: Prophet Isaiah speaks about a different kind of fast and sacrifice: Not one that is done as an outward show, not a self-centred publicity, but a self-giving with deep humility and love in action. St. John in his first letter tells us that God has loved us first, and He fills our hearts and lives with His love so that we may share that love with our brothers and sisters in need; “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me; whatever you did not do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did not do it to me”.
St. Teresa understood this message and made it the guiding principle of her consecrated life as a missionary of charity. She was like the moon receiving light from the sun. Her energy, light and love came from Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and she radiated it to the least of the brothers and sisters of Jesus. She recognised with faith the face of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and that is why, Holy Mass
,Adoration, prayer took the centre stage of her life. Then she recognised the same face of Jesus in the suffering, the sick, the destitute and the poorest of the poor whoever she met, and ministered to them with a smile, joy, generosity, courage, patience and love.
Having lived this life of love — love of God and love of neighbour — in a heroic way, Mother Teresa quenched the Thirst of Jesus on the Cross. One of the seven words of Jesus on the Cross— “I Thirst” — gave her the desire to work for souls and bodies, for the dignity and respect for the poor, thus making her a missionary in the truest sense of the word, bring God’s love among the least of the brothers and sisters of Jesus, irrespective of their caste or creed, language or nationality.
Let us recognise Jesus in the Eucharist, and meet him again in our homes, communities, society, in all situations and very specially in the poorest of the poor. “For if God is with us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)”. Amen.
* Archbishop of Calcutta