Saint Mother Teresa’s proclivity for evoking quotes of spiritual genius offers timeless inspiration. Such the humble icon was Mother Teresa that, in all the good she said and all the good she did, it was her faithful and trusting disposition that led her to accomplish great things for His glory: to serve the impoverished, the lonely, the forsaken. Her ability to help those suffering true physical poverty, regardless of race or creed, clearly demonstrates “love for neighbor,” as beseeched through Biblical and Church teaching. Yet a far more preponderant ability was her disposition to address the spiritual poverty of neighbor. How can we acquire such a disposition in light of our own obstacles and sufferings?
Perhaps the great missionary simply placed herself where material and spiritual poverty knew no bounds. Picture the dramatic scenario in Bethlehem. Joseph, keen to protect and provide for his expectant wife, Mary, finally reaches their destination. The couple desperately seeks lodging after a long, weary journey on a road familiar to robbers and other uncertain dangers. It’s the eve of the Nativity and, unfortunately, every guest room is occupied. When a shelter is finally discovered, it’s just a very simple dwelling: a drafty, dank, dark and pungent cave surrounded by all creatures curious. To make matters worse, what comfort could a feeding trough — a mere shallow and empty depression used to nourish livestock with food or water — provide for a swaddled newborn babe? Imagine the Holy Couple, amid great difficulty, completely dependent on God, trusting in Him to provide for their material and spiritual needs. The greatest accomplishment is delivered in the Nativity, God’s eternal gift of salvation through the joyous birth of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
Even in the face of suffering, discomfort and uncertainty, the greatest of deeds can be accomplished, just as the greatest of gifts can be unwrapped. The passage from 2 Corinthians 8:9 presents God’s disposition for unveiling His eternal gift of salvation through the Incarnation: “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
It is precisely why, in the humblest of settings, God’s works are accomplished completely through the desired dependence and disposition that the Holy Couple possessed. How to embrace such a disposition toward God is best explained by Blessed Mother Teresa:
“Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.”
Life’s many obstacles are best overcome with complete dependence on God, the Author of all life. Likened to the trough of the Nativity scene, God cradles all of our material and spiritual needs in the most humbling and mysterious of ways when we empty ourselves. Following in the Holy footsteps of Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Mary, we too must embrace the cradle of a greater poverty of spirit, an impetus for an intimate and life-saving prayer life. Such transformation allows God to fully maximize any talent, ability, wealth, reputation, influence and achievement to bring about great accomplishments for His Kingdom just as Blessed Mother Teresa portends:
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
In this season of anticipation, joy and wonder, consider for a moment the disposition we should have toward God, the Giver of all gifts. Are we allowing ourselves to be emptied, addressing the temporal and spiritual poverty of neighbor like Mother Teresa and the Holy Family – through our personal and professional lives?
It’s this very disposition I have strived to live in serving the Lord and His Church — my neighbor – as Priest. The Lord continues to inspire me to exercise this disposition to accomplish great deeds in His vineyard in my present role as president of Human Life International. Such wondrous transformation brings about great accomplishment as seen in this admirable Catholic and educational apostolate. Throughout our 40-year mission, HLI serves to inspire all God’s people to embrace a disposition toward God and neighbor, following His will to cultivate, sustain and build a Culture of Life around the world in defense of Life and Family.
Perhaps this final pearl of wisdom from Blessed Mother Teresa will be an inspiration for your own disposition:
“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.”
This article appeared in the December 2014 issue of Legatus Magazine. Reprinted with permission.