Friday, September 4, 2009

A Tribute to Our Beloved Mother by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.


A TRIBUTE TO OUR BELOVED MOTHER
by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.



We all have witnessed something extraordinary happening around and across the world since the night of September 5, 97 when Mother Teresa's thirsty soul abandoned her frail and worn out body to quench once and for all the infinite thirst of her Lord and Saviour whose thirst she tried to quench over the years with all the powers and fibres of her being on the streets of Calcutta and of the world. Although it is hard for us to accept the reality of her not being with us, the fact is that she returned to the Source and fullness of Love and Grace from where she will continue to shower many graces.

On the other hand it is absolutely necessary for us to accept the "Kairos of God", the divine hour of God's visitation for which she was always ready. So our beloved Mother whom we all loved and who loved us all so dearly within minutes disappeared from the visible horizons of our lives to be totally united to Jesus like a piece of iron stuck to the magnet never to be separated.

Already from a distance she might have heard the words of the Master: "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". We can imagine in our own minds the long line of the M.C. Community in heaven with Sr. Agnes and Sr. Sylvia in the front, then there is the endless line of the poorest of the poor whom Mother Teresa fed, quenched, clothed, sheltered, visited and buried; those in thousands who have lived like animals on the street but have died like angels with dignity, loved and cared by her and the members of the M.C. Family in the homes of the dying destitutes, the many lepers and AIDS patients, all dressed in white singing the songs of praise and thanksgiving were all waiting in heaven to welcome her and to take her to Abraham's bosom.

I wonder there has ever been such a reception in heaven for anybody or a funeral of any sort for any person on earth of any time or place. Everything in heaven and on earth for her was so unique and unprecedented. Never before in the story of any person of her status as religious had a State and Catholic funeral at the same time.

Leaving behind all these sublime and unique privileges that our Beloved Mother received both in life and at her death, not only from her beloved daughters and sons of the Family of the Missionaries of Charity but of the whole world we are now compelled to proceed to some of the principal teachings of our "Little Mahatma" Mother Teresa.

If Calcutta can be taken as a cesspool especially in the 1940s Mother Teresa can be the Lotus. As we know that immediately after the world war India became independent from the British, but not independent from problems. There were continual exodus in millions - especially from East Pakistan - majority of whom found their home on the sidewalks and empty, and old and unused buildings of Calcutta. Many could be found lying prostrate on both sides of the roads, a phenomenon that can still be found in Calcutta. Deprived of all human comforts and consolations, the poorest and the rejected cried to God for help. God saw the affliction of the poor and heard their cry. He called this simple, humble, and small in stature woman until now quite unknown to the world to be his messenger of love and tender care on the way to Darjeeling on 10th September 1946.

What did she learn from September 10th experience?

1) She learnt that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth is still hungry and thirsty for love of souls especially in the poorest of the poor irrespective of caste, colour, creed or nationality; and that she is being called to satiate and satisfy the hunger and thirst of Jesus and of the poor through prayer, penance and whole-hearted free service to them.

2) She learnt that the needs of the person take precedence over any other consideration such as religion, colour or nationality. Her first question was not what religion he or she belonged to or what country he or she came from, but whether the person in question was in need of any help or not and what could I do for him or her to alleviate the pain. When I began working in the home for the dying in Kalighat (Calcutta) in the year 1967, there was a man close to death who was brought by the Calcutta Corporation Ambulance. Once inside with all the care and love, simple medicines and some food, he was able to regain his strength; as soon as he was a little better he would go out to the street again and then within a few days an ambulance would bring him back. This happened over ten to fifteen times within a couple of months' time. I used to get upset and even angry with him for this. One day when he was brought back, I told Mother Teresa, this man has been here over fifteen or more times; there is no meaning in taking him in again. In a couple of days' time he is going to go back to the street. Mother looked at me and said: "Listen, Brother Sebastian, does this man now need your help or not?” I said, yes. "Then do whatever you can to help him. The question is not how many times he has been to us but how can we help him now. Plus whatever we do to him we do it to Jesus. This then is the point: although it was not the religion the person belonged to was her first consideration, every person she served was Jesus for her. She was always aware that whatever we do to the least of our brothers we do it to Jesus. And therefore:

3) She decided to make a fourth vow of wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor in whom she loved and served Jesus.

4) Mother Teresa learnt that the same Jesus whom she loved and adored in the Bread of Life is the same Jesus whom she loved and served in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor. From the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament she went to the presence of Jesus in the poorest of the poor and vice versa. She used to say: "The more repugnant the poor is the more faith is required to help him".

5) Mother Teresa learnt that the work she was going to do was not social work but God's work. She repeatedly said: "Our work is not social work; it is God's work we are doing. We are not social workers, we are consecrated persons who are called to do God's work". This gives the clear answer to the question: what is going to happen now to the Missionaries of Charity? Because it is God's work and works of love it is going to continue, as long as we remain faithful to her Spirit and Charism.

6) Mother Teresa realised that she was not called to do extraordinary things, but ordinary things with extraordinary love. She repeatedly said: "It is not how much we do that matters but how much love we put in our actions".

7) She learnt that not only she should hear the words of Jesus: "Come blessed of my Father..." but she should help all men of good will to hear it. She realised that she was called to build the bridge between the rich and the poor - the rich can find peace and joy in giving and sharing and the poor in receiving and returning. Both the rich and the poor give and receive mutually...

8) Mother Teresa learnt that it is in giving that we receive, in dying that we are born to eternal life. She realised that she was called to live the words of St. Paul: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35).

9) Through Mother Teresa God opened the eyes of many to see their own poverty and misery and the poor they are surrounded with and that they have to be "their brothers' keepers".

10) Mother Teresa made the world realise that there are two kinds of poverty: material and spiritual, both of which have positive and negative aspects. The spiritual poverty however is worse than the material poverty.

In conclusion we can say that although Mother Teresa died, had her most solemn funeral performed and her mortal remains have been laid in the tomb, her immortal spirit will continue to operate until the end of time and she from heaven will go on satiating the infinite thirst of our Crucified Saviour for love of souls as she has become more powerful than ever.

"Each sigh, each look, each act of mine shall be an act of love divine, and everything I shall do, shall be, dear Lord, for love of you. Take this my heart and keep it true: a fountain sealed to all but you. What is there that I would not do today?" This was her prayer and her life. Let this be our prayer and our life as well.

God bless you.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

(Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala is Co-founder with Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative, a mixed Community of Brothers and priests - one of the five branches of the Missionaries of Charity family. In 1967 he joined the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in Calcutta, and was a member of the first group of twelve novices. He was the first M.C. priest ordained. Since 1967 he has worked continuously with Mother Teresa, at first in Calcutta then in other countries of the world. In 1984 he founded the Lay Missionaries of Charity movement for lay people who live consecrated lives in the world.)

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