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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reading Mother Teresa

By nature I suppose, I’m not someone given to making blanket generalizations. Life, to me at least, is too complicated, too many-cornered, too rife with paradox, seeming contradictions that are not.

No matter. Here’s one I dare make—every Christian believer understands the absolute importance of taking care of the poor, the voiceless, the powerless. Love is the great commandment, and that love is expressed most clearly in giving one’s life for others. We all know that. No one can read the gospels—no one can read the Bible itself—and not know that Christ’s teaching in the Matthew 25 parable of sheep and goats is ever at the heart of things.

But here’s the rub. How? The difficulty arises in how we help those in need. Tuesday night, two Presidential candidates, both of whom confess Jesus, went to the mat for 90 minutes on just that question without much agreement.

On February 16, 1949, after attempting to find a place for the ministry to the poor that she'd just begin in Calcutta, Mother Theresa wrote this entry, redolent with her character, into her diary.
I went to meet the landlord of 46 Park Circus. The man never turned up. I am afraid I liked the place too much—and our Lord just wants me to be a “Free Nun,” covered with the poverty of the Cross. But today I learned a good lesson—the poverty of the poor must be often so hard for them. When I went round looking for a home, I walked and walked till my legs and arms ached. I thought how they must also ache in body and soul looking for home, food, help. Then the temptation grew strong. The palace buildings of the Loreto came rushing into my mind. All the beautiful things and comforts—in a word, everything. “You have only to say a word and all that will be yours again,” the tempter kept saying. Of free choice, My God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be Your Holy Will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come, even if I suffer more than now. I still want to do your Holy Will. This is the dark night of the birth of our Society. My God give me courage now, this moment, to persevere in following your Will.
That entry is not short on theological perception; after all, the tempter himself makes a skulking appearance. But what I find remarkable is her willingness to associate her own fears and anger that day with the perceived experience of those who daily suffer from the dishonor of broken promises, empty cupboards, and leaky roofs. Her own personal distress that day actually led her into considering anew the distress of others, those less fortunate. Instead of gathering her own spite into a fist, she reaches out for others, sees them more clearly in her own distress. 

It’s a gorgeous little story, really, a story she didn’t mean to tell us, a story she simply recorded has her personal testimony after a very trying day.

Still, without a doubt, it brought her closer to the poor and the destitute, the people she wanted to serve. Her empathy, amply demonstrated here, was the starting point for her mission, as, in a better world, it should be for more of us, me very much included.


Anonymous said...

I think your analysis of scripture is 100% spot-on when it comes to Christians serving the poor. Sister Theresa is the poster child for living-out the command to "deny self and take up the cross and follow Christ."

So far so good. We agree.

For me here is the uncrossable divide which we both witnessed in the debate: church and government.

God's ends for His people are not promised to be achieved through any secular government but through His Church, period. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's". Matthew 22:15-22.

The command in scripture to serve the poor is given to the Church/Christians NOT to secular governments. What business does unbelievers have in caring for the poor? They are not bound by any scriptural commands to feed and care for the poor?

Hence, your question and, I agree, the key question.

"But here’s the rub. How? The difficulty arises in how we help those in need. Tuesday night, two Presidential candidates, both of whom confess Jesus, went to the mat for 90 minutes on just that question without much agreement. "

Mitt Romney: Empower the individual [jobs and low taxes] so he/she can give to the poor as God's Spirit leads them. For example, Mitt paid 14% tax but compare his charitable giving to Obama and Biden.

Obama:: Create class envy and tax the fat cats to the
maximum extent possible so the government can re-distribute your money where ever the government wants. The government picks the winners and losers.

I plan to put my money where God commands instead of the government coffers. I will vote Romney/Ryan.

Anonymous said...

A vote for Romney/Ryan will provide increased opportunity for Christians to give to the poor. Also, lower taxes means less money to Planned Parenthood, government funded abortions and failed companies like Solindra.

A win win.

Anonymous said...

The function of government is to ensur e justice prevails. Where's the justice in fat cats only paying 14% tax? Where's the justice in legislating for a minimum wage that is not a living wage? While the poor may be fairly well looked after in a place like Sioux County, they have no chance of a decent life in poor states like Mississippi and Georgia where the legacy of slavery and other policies continue to affect the conditions of millions.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you are so adamant about justice and fail to see the injustice that the major USA cities have endured for the past 50 + years from the left wing liberal mayors. Not one city has elected a conservative and are suffering for it.

Take a look at Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and the list goes on. The plight of African Americans and other minorities has not improved [in fact has gotten worse under their leadership]. So where is the justice?

Government handouts have enabled these folks to the point where they have little self worth left. The legacy of slavery is not an excuse, ask Condolezza Rice. Under Obama the cycle of hopelessness has gotten worse. Where is the justice?

I think justice is empowering people with jobs, job training, and low taxes [no job killing Obama Care] rather than citing class envy as your primary argument. Look at the facts, joblessness has gotten worse!

Romney's 14% taxes allowed him to contribute to the charities of his choice. Just think if his taxes were lower. Hey private colleges, BYU and other charities might get more dough, not bad huh?

Let's reduce everybody's taxes [including Romney's] and provide opportunities for good paying jobs. Keeping your own money is justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Go for it... We should all will have more money to assist the poor. right? Hard to trump that.

Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama folks hang on, Romney/Ryan will provide the hope and change Obama forgot about.

I love this optimistic message.

Anonymous said...

"The function of government is to ensure justice prevails."

Please explain your concept of justice to the 40 million innocent pre-born children [the real poor] who were sacrificed at the altar of convenience by the left wing liberals.

I watched the prayer breakfast that Mother Theresa spoke at with the Clintons in the audience. She received a standing ovation from the entire audience. The Clintons remained seated.

And your worried about the 14% tax rate for Romney?

Anonymous said...

Forget about sister Teresa, Romney and government (except of course your king of Kings and the lord of Lords). What did Jesus say and do about the poor and the rich? Come on all you "christians" get real. What about the Man and life he lived as it may or may not be relative to your lives.

Anonymous said...

"What about the Man and life he lived as it may or may not be relative to your lives."

Jesus is relevant to my life for sure. He is my Lord and Savior and an example as to how to relate to those who mistreat the poor.

Jesus lived his life providing for the poor and engaging the Pharisees [the preachers, teachers and leaders.] He called them white-washed walls and vipers. They looked good on the outside and were rotten to the core. He did not keep the tradition of the elder and they eventually crucified him.

We are to engage with those who trample on the poor [pro-aborts and others who pretend to advocate for the poor] as Jesus did.

Anonymous said...

How did Jesus live his life "providing for the poor"? How is one to be "engaged" in helping the "poor " in today's world and not just "pretend"? How would one help those poor who don't come to your church, or may not be christians? How does one offer Christ's love to "those who mistreat the poor"? Thank you for your wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Come along side of the poor, love them, develop relationships. Contribute to charities that serve folks you can not come along side of, World Vision gets my support.

Love your neighbor as yourself. giving is only giving when it hurts. Get to know those who you are uncomfortable to be around [the least of these]. Emotionally, physically, intellectually and mentally disabled are always folks I move to first.

Do not support those who "use" the least of these by buying their votes with handouts. [go on an Indian reservation to see handouts in operation] The folks have little self respect left.

Anonymous said...

First Americans who live on Indian reservations have experienced many centurys of self respect, it is an importatnt gift from our culture. Many Later Americans from across the big waters have taken what they wanted, but we are not asking for your hand outs. Come and see for yourself. We are never "uncomfortable" to be we strangers.