HOMILY OF THE Beatification of Mother Teresa of
H.H. John Paul II
October 19, 2003
1. "Whoever would be
first among you must be slave of all" (Mk10: 44). Jesus'
words to his disciples that have just rung out in this Square
show us the way to evangelical "greatness". It is the way walked
by Christ himself that took him to the Cross: a journey of love
and service that overturns all human logic. To be the servant
Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity whom today I have the
joy of adding to the Roll of the Blesseds, allowed this logic to
guide her. I am personally grateful to this courageous woman
whom I have always felt beside me. Mother Teresa, an icon of
the Good Samaritan, went everywhere to serve Christ in the
poorest of the poor. Not even conflict and war could stand in
Every now and then she
would come and tell me about her experiences in her service to
the Gospel values. I remember, for example, her pro-life and
anti-abortion interventions, even when she was awarded the Nobel
Prize for peace (Oslo, 10 December 1979). She often used to
say: "If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her
child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to
bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign
of God's love".
2. Is it not
significant that her beatification is taking place on the very
day on which the Church celebrates
World Mission Sunday?
With the witness of her life, Mother
Teresa reminds everyone that the evangelizing mission of the
Church passes through charity, nourished by prayer and
listening to God's word. Emblematic of this missionary style is
the image that shows the new Blessed clasping a child's hand in
one hand while moving her Rosary beads with the other.
action, evangelization and human promotion: Mother Teresa
proclaimed the Gospel living her life as a total gift to the
poor but, at the same time, steeped in prayer.
3. Whoever wants to
be great among you must be your servant" (Mk 10: 43). With
particular emotion we remember today
Mother Teresa, a great servant of the
poor, of the Church and of the whole world. Her life is a
testimony to the dignity and the privilege of humble service.
She had chosen to be not just the least but to be the
servant of the least. As a real mother to the poor, she bent
down to those suffering various forms of poverty. Her greatness
lies in her ability to give without counting the cost, to give
"until it hurts". Her life was a radical living and a bold
proclamation of the Gospel.
The cry of Jesus on the
Cross, "I thirst" (Jn 19: 28), expressing the depth of
God's longing for man, penetrated Mother Teresa's soul and found
fertile soil in her heart. Satiating Jesus' thirst for love
and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had
become the sole aim of Mother Teresa's existence and the inner
force that drew her out of herself and made her "run in haste"
across the globe to labour for the salvation and the
sanctification of the poorest of the poor.
4. "As you did to
one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt
25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in understanding Mother
Teresa's service to the poor, was the basis of her faith-filled
conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she
was touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself,
hidden under the distressing disguise of the poorest of the
poor, that her service was directed. Mother Teresa highlights
the deepest meaning of service - an act of love done to the
hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf. Mt
25: 34-36) is done to Jesus himself.
Recognizing him, she
ministered to him with wholehearted devotion, expressing the
delicacy of her spousal love. Thus, in total gift of herself to
God and neighbour, Mother Teresa found her greatest fulfilment
and lived the noblest qualities of her femininity. She
wanted to be a sign of "God's love, God's presence and God's
compassion", and so remind all of the value and dignity of each
of God's children, "created to love and be loved". Thus was
Mother Teresa "bringing souls to God and God to souls" and
satiating Christ's thirst, especially for those most in need,
those whose vision of God had been dimmed by suffering and pain.
5. "The Son of man
also came... to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk
10: 45). Mother Teresa shared in the Passion of the crucified
Christ in a special way during long years of "inner darkness".
For her that was a test, at times an agonizing one, which she
accepted as a rare "gift and privilege".
In the darkest hours
she clung even more tenaciously to prayer before the Blessed
Sacrament. This harsh spiritual trial led her to identify
herself more and more closely with those whom she served each
day, feeling their pain and, at times, even their rejection.
She was fond of repeating that the greatest poverty is to be
unwanted, to have no one to take care of you.
6. "Lord, let your
mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you". How often,
like the Psalmist, did
Mother Teresa call on her Lord in
times of inner desolation: "In you, in you I hope, my God!".
Let us praise the Lord
for this diminutive woman in love with God, a humble
Gospel messenger and a tireless benefactor of humanity. In her
we honour one of the most important figures of our time. Let us
welcome her message and follow her example.
Virgin Mary, Queen of
all the Saints, help us to be gentle and humble of heart like
this fearless messenger of Love. Help us to serve every person
we meet with joy and a smile. Help us to be missionaries of
Christ, our peace and our hope. Amen!
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