Friday, March 23, 2007

Saints, Courage and the Look

Aidan and I are in the midst of studying India. For our biography we're reading about Saint Teresa - you know - of Calcutta. This woman had such a love for the LORD and it was born out in her love for the weakest, the sickest, the most helpless.

My children make fun of me when reading a sensitive part of a book and I begin to cry. Countless times I've had to pass the book off to Emma to finish the story (Stone Fox, Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey just to name a couple). While reading Teresa of Calcutta by D. Jeanene Watson I've had to choke back some tears. Read for yourself:

The man, awake now, watched Sadhana Singh [a new recruit from an upper caste family] and Sister Agnes in wonder. Dirt covered his body so thickly it had to be scraped off. Some sores teamed with maggots. Other sores stunk so badly of gangrene that even the maggots had died. ... Sadhana nodded, but did not speak. She kept her lips in a forced smile. She swallowed often. Suddenly she turned and fled.
"She'll not be back, "the reporter said to Mother Teresa. "You must lose a lot of girls."
Teresa said, "Why no. In two years only one has left...
Three hours later, the newspaper reporter and his photographer prepared to leave. As they said goodbye to Mother Teresa, Sadhana Singh, beaming with happiness, came to Mother Teresa.
"Mother!" Sadhana said, "I cleaned him!"
The reporter, astonished, asked, "What made it possible? What did Mother Teresa say to you."
Sadhana said, "Mother Teresa told me to do it for Jesus. I have been touching the body of Christ for three hours!"

and then again
Before the play began, the people asked Teresa to speak. She stood and said a few words. She ended by telling the lepers, "You are the gift of God. He loves you with a special love."
A leper sitting nearby said, "Mother, would you tell me that again, because I've always heard that no one loves me. It is wonderful to know that God loves me. Say it again."
.... After she returned to her chair, Lady Jordan asked, "How do you do it? How can you touch a leper and smile?"
Teresa said, "I know that when I touch the limbs of a leper, I am touching the body of Christ. This conviction of touching Christ under the appearance of a leper gives me courage which I wouldn't have otherwi

As I've been reading this book I'm reminded of a friends blog. ( - her March 4th, Strange One entry) She wrote about "the look" she gets because of her position as a missionary. In the church there are certain positions of "awe." Pastors, missionaries,... people other people look at with the "Look"- Wow, you must be so spiritual look". People in those positions are just like every other Christian. Or are they? I think if I met Mother Teresa today I would be fully justified in giving her the look". And I feel fairly certain she would say, as Marti did, "I am just an ordinary Christian, please don't elevate me to such an unworthy level, which should be only reserved for Christ." Amen. Yet.... I believe such individuals can be admired and awed, if only to challenge those of us to action.

We have friends who are missionaries in Central Asia. Oftentimes when I am feeling sorry for my lot in life I think of Iris and what she has to put up with in her rural village, in the middle of war. It puts my life in perspective and gives me the motivation to get off my pity party and do something constructive with my life.

So I say, have heroes and heroines who are saints (and sinners). And even saints can have saints that they admire. Don't grovel in self-pity over what your are not, but use their lives as a model for the potential in your life.

As Paul says: Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (Romans 11:1)

1 comment:

Nairobi Paul said...

It is great to have those we look up to. And it's sad when they let us down - but a reminder to keep our eyes on Christ.

She wouldn't say this, but I think Mother Teresa didn't let anyone down - or very few, anyhow. I know she wasn't sinless, but there are differences in the amount of a person's life that they honor Christ with, and she's pretty up there in that spectrum of those who honored Christ with a lot of her life.