Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reading Mother Teresa--XIII

Greta Garbo is there, as is Ray Milland, Deanna Durbin, and, of course, the Dutch Royal Family. I've been there twice, and was struck both times by the ordinariness of it all, the room's walls festooned with pix of people who drew her fancy--movie stars, the Dutch Royal family, a couple of England's princesses.

You stand there in that little room in "the annex," and you say to your self that the young lady who stuck these pictures on her bedroom walls, Anne Frank, was no different from any other young lady really--except that she was Jewish, in occupied Holland, in the middle of the war. And because she wrote down what she was feeling and experiencing, left a testimony that has read and treasured by millions.

I thought of Anne Frank when I read this line from Come Be My Light: ". . .there was nothing so much out of the ordinary about her as to attract the attention of the archbishop or anyone else."

Sister Teresa became Mother Teresa on May 24, 1937, after taking her final vows in the convent chapel at Darjeeling. Had you or I been there, there would have been nothing at all to catch our attention because she wouldn't have distinguished herself in the least from those others who took vows with her. We wouldn't have recognized her as someone who would become what she would. She was totally ordinary.

In an odd way, the story isn't all that much different from the famous Matthew 25 passage of the Bible, the only place in the gospels where Jesus talks much about the afterlife, where he talks specifically about sheep and goats and the two starkly different directions people will take at judgment.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’"
What follows is one of the strangest verses in scripture, methinks, because even the righteous--even those who obeyed and paid attention, who gave mercy and clothed the naked, visited the prisoners, brought food to the hungry--even those have no clue:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’"
The righteous, no different from the unrighteous, had no idea that what they were doing was blessed work. They were totally blind to the very fact that they'd allowed themselves to become the hands of Christ. Whatever they did, they did as instinct, exercising a righteous propensity to lend a hand. They did what they did because, simply enough, they were needed.

In 1944, standing in her room, no one could have guessed that Anne Frank would tell a story which has come to shed light on the Holocaust better than almost any other. No one could have predicted what she scribbled down would become one of the world's great books. But then, eight years earlier, no one could have guessed that a diminuitive Albanian woman, the newly named Mother Teresa, would become the Mother Teresa.

She was no prodigy, nor was she somehow marked for greatness. She was simply someone who let herself be used, someone who saw hungry people and tried with every bit of her heart, soul, and mind to find ways to feed them, to give them His love with hers.

There are mysteries in our lives that go beyond far beyond our ken.

But not His.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you brother!