Today is the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She is well known for her work with the poorest of the poor.
I did a very short (two week) stint in Moca, Dominican Republic assisting doctors in providing some basic medical care to those in need with a group called Medical Ministry International or (MMI). My job was in the “farmacia” preparing medications and labeling them. We met young, old, babies, the real poor, the desolate, and even some not so poor. Some of these folk were happy to be there, others demanding, still others in so much pain. I enjoyed this time, got in deep touch with my compassionate side and can definitely say that my time spent there sure did feel longer than two weeks. But that was not the real joy of that experience.
At that time in my life my own two children were young, about 4 and 6 years old, so my favorite part of this mission was stealing away from the pharmacy and hanging out with the children. We played, colored, sang, and I loved dancing with them. The kids were so communicative (even though my Spanish was terrible) and loving, it reminded me of my own kids whom I was missing terribly. I later realized that the great thing about hanging with these kids was that I was not thinking so much about their poor or sick status. They were just like my own kids to me, sometimes lovable, other times playful, other times picky or sullen – whether they were in a wheelchair, had a cleft palate or just didn’t feel so good. They were just people. I forgot a little where I was and just lived in the moment. Compassion was not the priority emotion any longer. I was just “being” with the children. I recognized the need for compassion and I gave it but more important what came out of me – through the grace of Christ I know – was love, acceptance, and simple fellowship. A mother with children.
Whenever I think of Mother Theresa doing her work with the poor with her Order of Sisters I know in my heart that my tiny, little piece of understanding with those kids in Moca (thank you Lord) was increased a hundred fold in Mother Theresa herself and in her work. I know in my heart that the physical care and compassion Mother Theresa gave to these people built up to the spiritual gift of Christ Himself she gave to these people – which was respect, dignity and love in a world of violence, disrespect, and degradation. When I think about it, these people who lived a life of poverty, sickness, humiliation and societal disrespect, were given a blessing among blessings, to see the face of Christ through Mother Theresa and her Sisters. They got to see Him magnified, to taste the fruit of His love, to know Him in a way most of us will never ever know Him. I don’t dare say I wish to change places with them, but I do dare say that when we all act with Christ in our heart, letting Him take over our hearts, our minds and our souls, our status in life loses so much importance and the love of Christ takes on a much bigger role overshadowing all else and providing for us all an equality unmatched by any law we can pass or to which we cling. The weak become strong, the poor become rich, the last become first.
As Jesus mediates between God and man, Mother Theresa helps mediate between Jesus and man. She brings people to Him through her service. As a result, people are transformed by the love of Christ. We are all blessed with the capacity to love in Christ as Mother Theresa did. If we use that love which we know we all possess in our hearts to respect others, give them dignity, remember that they count, we can change the face and dynamic of our negotiations.
When disagreement occurs, people are at such odds with each other there is a drastic loss of respect. With that loss of respect comes a dehumanizing of the other and then compromise is all but impossible because one cannot even fathom the other capable of compromise, nor is one even willing to see the other’s perspective because if they have dehumanized that person, that person is not worthy of having a perspective. Apply this now to family cases with children and you can easily envision the turmoil that can ensue if respect is not restored at the outset before any negotiation begins.
Moreover, how does a child have a chance of not being scarred during this time? His or her mother and father, the two people he or she loves most, are dehumanizing each other in front of the child and more often than not, to the child. That teaches a child that we have little tolerance or understanding of each other. We are all unreasonable at times. We all do wrong things. We all hurt each other. If we blow those actions up enough to send the message that because of a certain behavior or action this person is no longer worthy of dignity, your child will follow your example and treat other in the same way.
None of us are free from serious and grave errors. We must take the plank out of our own eye, my friends, and be honest with ourselves regarding the bad decisions we have made and how they have impacted those around us. FIRST look at YOURSELF…then…take a deep breath and commit to solving this problem in a way that benefits all – not just you. You will feel better. You will feel empowered. You will feel good about yourself and the fear, hatred, and other negative emotions that lurk deep in the pit of your stomach will go away.
The preceding article was inspired today by attendance of Mass this a.m, and by this article written by the Jesuit Reverend James Martin Mother Theresa: One of the Greatest Saints Ever
The good Reverend said it all much better than me and then some. His own experiences are priceless and revealing.
~Brenda Baietto, Esq.