Pope's Homily at Beatification Mass of Mother Teresa

«Let Us Praise This Little Woman Enamored of God»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II’s homily during the beatification Mass for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, celebrated this morning in St. Peter’s Square. The text was read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and by Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India.

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1. Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all (Mark 10:44). These words of Jesus to his disciples, which resounded in this square a short while ago, indicate the way that leads to evangelical «greatness.» It is the way that Christ himself followed to the cross; a journey of love and service, which goes against all human logic. To be the slave of all!

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, whom today I have the joy of inscribing in the register of the blessed, allowed herself to be guided by this logic. I am personally grateful to this courageous woman, whom I have always felt near to me. Icon of the Good Samaritan, she went everywhere to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor. Not even conflicts and wars succeeded in stopping her.

Every now and then she came to talk to me about her experiences in the service of evangelical values. I remember, for example, what she said when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize: «If you hear that some woman does not want to have her baby and wants to abort, try to convince her to bring me that baby. I will love him, seeing in him the sign of the love of God» (Oslo, Dec. 10, 1979).

2. Is it not, perhaps, significant that her beatification is taking place precisely on the day in which the Church observes World Mission Day? With the evangelical testimony of her life, Mother Teresa reminds all that the evangelical mission of the Church is expressed in charity, nourished in prayer and in listening to the Word of God. Emblematic of this missionary style is the picture depicting the new blessed, holding with one hand the hand of a baby and with the other, the beads of the rosary.

Contemplation and action, evangelization and human promotion: Mother Teresa proclaims the Gospel with her life wholly given to the poor but, at the same time, enveloped in prayer.

[Translation of above paragraphs by ZENIT]

3. «Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant» (Mark 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» (John 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 labor 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» (Matthew 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. Matthew 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 neighbor, Mother Teresa found her greatest fulfillment and lived the noblest qualities of her femininity. She wanted to be a sign of «God’s love, God’s presence, 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.

[Above paragraphs were read in English]

5. «The Son of man came to give his life as a ransom for many» (Mark 10:45). Mother Teresa shared the passion of the Crucified One, in a special way during long years of «interior darkness.» That trial at times was piercing, which she accepted as a singular «gift and privilege.»

In the darkest hours she would cling with greater tenacity to prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament. This harsh spiritual suffering led her to identify herself ever more with those she served every day, experiencing pain and at times even rejection. She would love to repeat that the greatest poverty is that of being unwanted, of having no one who cares for you.

6. «Give us, Lord, your grace, in you we place our hope!» Like the Psalmist, how many times, in moments of interior desolation, Mother Teresa also repeated to her Lord: «In you, in you I hope, my God!»

Let us praise this little woman enamored of God, humble messenger of the Gospel and tireless benefactor of humanity. We honor in her one of the most outstanding personalities of our time. Let us accept her message and follow her example.

Virgin Mary, Queen of all Saints, help us to be meek and humble of heart as this intrepid messenger of Love. Help us to serve with joy and with a smile every person we meet. Help us to be missionaries of Christ, our peace and our hope. Amen!

[Translation of above paragraphs by ZENIT]

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