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Mother Teresa on Love one another as I have loved you
The following passages are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.
The word love permeates Mother Teresa’s speaking. Jesus commands us to love one another. This love is to be based on his love for us. We love God, who loves the world. Through us, the world learns of God’s love.
The kind of love that counts is a sacrificial love. It isn’t enough just to give from our abundance. We must give, we must love, until it hurts. Jesus loved us so much that he endured betrayal, false accusations, torture, ridicule, physical pain, and finally death. As followers of Jesus, we too must be willing to suffer for others.
Love begins at home with those closest to us. If we don’t love our family members—--our spouse, our children, our aging parents, the brothers or sisters in our religious order—--how can we reach out with God’s love to the world?
People everywhere are hungry for God’s love. We must radiate that love. When we do, then they will know that we are followers of
Jesus. Then God can use us to fill people’s hunger for him.
A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
If you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, RSV)
A new commandment I give you,
that you love one another...
1. Love has a hem to her garment
That reaches the very dust.
It sweeps the stains
From the streets and lanes,
And because it can, it must. (250)
2. Be kind and loving with each other, for you cannot love Christ in his distressing disguise if you cannot love Jesus in the heart of your brothers and sisters. Love, to be living, must be fed on sacrifice. Be generous with the penances and all the sacrifices that come from our poverty, and you will be able in all sincerity to say, “My God and my all.” (250)
3. You are to be a family, to be that presence of Christ to each other. Love each other tenderly as Jesus loves each one of you. That is the holiness of the Universal Brothers of the Word: tender love for each other speaks much louder than all the words you can say. Never hurt anybody with the Word, which is so sacred in our lives. Really live what you say: the younger brothers that come up learn by seeing, not so much by hearing. Young people now don’t want to listen, they want to see. (250)
4. A few weeks ago I got a letter from the States. She was making her first Holy Communion. She told her parents, “Don’t worry about special clothes for my First Communion. I will make my First Communion in my school uniform. Don’t have any party for me. But please give me the money. I want to send it to Mother Teresa.” That little one, just seven or eight years old, already in her heart was loving until it hurt. (250)
5. Hear Jesus your Co-worker speaks to you: “I want you to be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying, and the little children; the poor I want you to bring to me.” Learn this sentence by heart and when you are wanting in generosity, repeat it. We can refuse Christ just as we refuse others: “I will not give you my hands to work with, my feet to walk with, my mind to study with, my heart to love with. You knock at the door, but I will not give you the key to heart.” This is what he feels so bitterly: not being able to live his life in a soul. (250)
6. The Indian ambassador in Rome told the people, “These our sisters have done more in a short time to bring our two countries closer to each other by their influence of love than we have through official means.” (251)
7. If you don’t have love for one another, then how can you love Christ? How can they see Jesus in you? That’s why we need a clean heart, to see Jesus. Love one another. That’s all Jesus came to teach us. The whole gospel is very, very simple. Do you love me? Obey my commandments. He’s turning and twisting just to get around to one thing: love one another. He wants us to be really, really loving. Give from the heart. (251)
8. Intense love does not measure; it just gives. To be an apostle of the Sacred Heart, one must be burning with love, intense love for the sisters. If you want peace, you cannot just say anything you please, the first word that comes into your head. (251)
9. We desire to be able to welcome Jesus at Christmas time, not in an old manger of our heart but in a heart full of love and humility, in a heart so pure, so immaculate, so warm with love for one another. (251)
10. Do not pursue spectacular deeds. What matters is the gift of your self; the degree of love that you put into each one of your actions. (251)
11. We need no bombs or weapons. Love is our weapon: love toward the lepers, the elderly, the dying, the paralytic; toward all those who have no one and are loved by no one. (251)
12. Love is a fruit in season and out of season, without limits—--a fruit that is available to all. (252)
13. Not even God can fill what is already full. Hence we have to empty our hearts in order to allow him to fill us with his love and with his kindness. (252)
14. I cannot forget my mother. She was usually very busy all day long. But when sunset drew near, it was her custom to hurry with her tasks in order to be ready to receive my father.
At the time we did not understand, and we would smile and even joke a little about it. Today I cannot help but call to mind that great delicacy of love that she had for him. No matter what happened, she was always prepared, with a smile on her lips, to welcome him.
Today we have no time. Fathers and mothers are so busy that when children come home they are not welcomed with love or with a smile. (252)
15. “Love one another.” Suppress this command, and the whole work of the Church of Christ will fall.
Charity toward the poor must be a burning flame in our Society. Just as the fire, when it ceases burning, spreads no more warmth, so the Missionaries of Charity, should they lack love, would lose all usefulness and would have no more life.
Charity is like a living flame: the drier the fuel, the livelier the flame. Likewise our hearts, when they are free of all earthly causes, commit themselves in free service.
Love of God must give rise to a total service. The more disgusting the work, the greater must love be, as it takes succor to the Lord disguised in the rags of the poor. (252)
16. I always say—--and I don’t get tired of repeating it—--that love starts at home. I will never forget that I was in a country once where there were many Co-workers, but two of the coordinators for the Co-workers were very distant from each other. And they were husband and wife. They came to me and I told than, “I can’t understand how you are able to give Jesus to others if you can’t give him to each other. How can you find Jesus hidden under the distressing appearance of the poor if you cannot see him in each other?”
The husband and wife started up an endless argument. Both of them let out all their frustrations and hurts, saying everything they had to say. Then I interrupted “Now that’s enough. You have said everything that you needed to say. Let’s go to Jesus so that you can tell him all these things.”
We went to the chapel and the two knelt down before the altar. After a few moments, the husband turned to his wife and said, “You are my only love in this world, the only one I love and have.” Other things of that sort followed. It was all very beautiful.
Now all the Co-workers there have changed for the better. Why? Because those in charge of the group have come to understand that if we don’t accept Jesus in one another, we will not be able to give Him to others. (252)
17. Sometimes we see how joy returns to the lives of the most destitute when they realize that many among us are concerned about them and show them our love. Even their health improves if they are sick. (253)
18. If my love for my sisters is okay, then my love for Jesus will be ok. There are not two loves. The deeper my love for Jesus, the deeper that love for my sisters, the greater the zeal to go to the poor. (253)
19. Charity, to be fruitful, must cost us. Actually, we hear so much about. Yet we never give it its full importance: God put the commandment of loving our neighbor on the same footing as the first commandment. God’s love is infinite.
God has prepared us for service, so he expects this from us. He has given each of us something that in one way or another will enable him to shine through us.
We want to be something for Almighty God, and since we cannot reach God and do it directly to him, we serve him in the poor people of India. We are here purely for the love of God. Our charity must be true. We must feel in our very bones that we are doing it—--we should be living fires of love. Every Missionary of Charity must be like a burning bush. (253)
20. If we learn the art of recollection, we will look more and more like Christ since his heart is nothing but reward: Christ always thinks about others.
Jesus walked among men doing only good. At Cana Mary did nothing but think about the needs of others and let Jesus know about them.
The recollection of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was so deep that they changed Nazareth into the dwelling of the Almighty. If we too could have that same concern for one another, our communities would also become the dwelling places of the Almighty. (254)
21. Use your tongue for the good of others—--for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (254)
22. Since we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to him. But we do see our neighbor, and we can do for him what we would do for Christ if He were visible.
Let us be open to God, so that he can use us. Let us put love into action.
Let us begin with our family, with our closest neighbors. It is difficult, but that is where our work begins. We are collaborators of Christ, fertile branches on the vine. (254)
23. In order for love to be genuine, it has to be above all a love for my neighbor. (254)
24. We must love those who are nearest to us, in our own family. From there, love spreads toward whoever may need us. (254)
25. We must try to discover the poor in our own setting because only if we know them will we be able to understand them and to offer them our love. And only when we love them will we be willing to offer them our service of love. (254)
26. It is easy to love those who live far away. It is not always easy to love those who live right next to us. It is easier to offer a dish of rice to meet the hunger of a needy person than to comfort the loneliness and the anguish of someone in our own home who does not feel loved. (255)
27. There are young people who come from all over the world to spend two weeks or a month working at the humblest of jobs out of love for others. They pick up all sorts of people off the streets for us, but they do it with a great deal of love. I feel unable to explain adequately what happens to those who lovingly serve the poor and what also happens to the people who are lovingly served. These homes of ours have become homes in which treasures of the kingdom are hidden.
Even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another. (255)
28. These words of Jesus, “Even as I have loved you that you also love one another,” should be not only a light to us, but they should also be a flame consuming the selfishness which prevents the growth of holiness. Jesus “loved us to the end,” to the very limit of love: the cross. This love must come from within, from our union with Christ. It must be an outpouring of our love for God, superior and sisters in one family, a family with the common Father, who is in heaven. Loving must be as normal to us as living and breathing, day after day until our death. (255)
29. Love each other as God loves each one of you, with an intense and particular love. Be kind to each other: it is better to commit faults with gentleness than to work miracles with unkindness. (255)
30. Love begins at home, right inside our community. We cannot love outside unless we really love our brothers and sisters inside. So I say we need a very clean heart to be able to see God. When we all see God in each other, we will love one another as he loves us all. That is the fulfillment of the law, to love one another. This is all Jesus came to teach us: that God loves us, and that he wants us to love one another as he loves us. (255)
31. In order to survive, love must feed on sacrifice. Jesus’ words, “Love each other as I have loved you,” should not only be a light for us but also a flame to burn away our selfishness.
St. Thérêse of Lisieux used to say, “When I act and think with charity, I feel that it is Jesus who works in me. The deeper my union with him, the stronger is my love for those who live in Carmel.” (256)
32. All human beings are brothers and sisters. All of us have been created by the same loving hand of God. Jesus has said to us all, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). And he has also said, “As the Father has loved me, so love one another” (John 15:9). Having this command of Jesus, we cannot be known for a paltry spirit. (256)
33. We must love with Jesus’ love and his spirit of sacrifice. God loved us by giving himself to us. Mary loved us by sharing Jesus with us. Jesus loved us by giving up his life for us and giving his body to us as the Bread of Life. We too must give ourselves to one another. Because of this, we must reject whatever would keep us from giving ourselves to one another. We must look at it as something dangerous, something that would destroy us. I think that anything that destroys or opposes this unity cannot come from God. It comes from the devil. Just as St. Ignatius says, whatever perverts or destroys comes from the devil. The devil is the father of lies. He is capable of telling us a whole pack of lies in hopes of destroying us. (256)
34. God loves those to whom he can give more, those who expect more from him, those who are open, those who sense their need and rely on him for everything. Our works are just an expression of the growth of God’s love in us. Therefore, he who is more united to God is the one who loves his neighbor more. (256)
35. Jesus came into this world for one purpose. He came to give us the good news that God loves us, that God is love, that he loves you, and he loves me. He wants us to love one another as he loves each one of us. (257)
36. Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me (by giving me to the world), I have loved you (by giving my life for you). Love as I have loved you (by giving yourself).” This giving is prayer, the sacrifice of chastity, poverty, obedience, and wholehearted, free service. (257)
37. There is no limit to God’s love. It is without measure and its depth cannot be sounded. This is shown by his living and dying among us. Now turn the same picture around. There must be no limit to the love that prompts us to give ourselves to God, to be the victim of his unwanted love, that is, the love of God that has not been accepted by men. (257)
38. Love is not something that fossilizes, but something that lives. Works of love are the way to peace. And where does this love begin?—--right in our hearts. We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved. (257)
39. Our mission is to convey God’s love—--not a dead God but a living one. (257)
40. We read in Scripture that God speaks of his love for us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3, RSV).
And he also says, “I have called you by your name. You are mine. The waters will not drown you. Fire will not burn you. I will give up nations for you. You are precious to me. I love you. . . .Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand. You are precious to me. I love you” (Isaiah 43:1-4; 49:15-16). These are the words of God himself for you, for me, for everyone, even for the poorest of the poor. Therefore, every time God looks at his hand, he sees me there. He sees you there too. It is something very beautiful to remember in times of suffering, loneliness, humiliation, and failure.
Remember, you are there in his hand.
You are precious to him.
He loves you.
What a truly wonderful thing! (257)
41. I will give you one more beautiful example of God’s love. A man came to our house and said, “My only child is dying! The doctor has prescribed a medicine that you can get only in England.” (Now I have permission from our government to store life-saving medicines that are gathered from all over the country. We have many people that go from house to house and gather leftover medicines. And they bring them to us and we give them to our poor people. We have thousands of people who come to our dispensaries.) While we were talking, a man came in with a basket of medicines.
I looked at that basket of medicines: right on the top was the very medicine that man needed for his dying child! If it had been underneath, I wouldn’t have seen it.
If he had come earlier or later, I would not have remembered. He came just in time. -
I stood in front of that basket and I was thinking, “There are millions of children in the world, and God is concerned with that little child in the slums of Calcutta. To send that man at that very moment! To put the medicine right on the top, so I could see it!
See God’s tender concern for you and for me! He would do the same thing for each one of you. (258)
42. We should gather to give thanks to God for what he has done in us, with us, and through us. We thank him for having used you and us to be his love and mercy. God is still love, and he still loves the world. We believe that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. And God so loves the world today that he gives you and me to love the world, so that we may be his love and his mercy. What a beautiful thought and conviction for us, that we can be that love and mercy right in our homes, above all. Then we can be that love and mercy for our next-door neighbors and for our neighbors down the street. (259)
43. Jesus has chosen us for himself. We belong to him. Let us be so convinced of this “belonging” that we allow nothing, however small, to separate us from his love. (259)
44. This is the only condition that Christ really places on us: “Love one another as I have loved you.” And we know very well how much he has loved us! He died for us! (259)
45. I will tell you another good example of how generous and great our people are.
We had picked up a young orphan boy whose mother had died in the home for dying destitutes. She had come from a good family but had come down in life because of difficult circumstances.
The boy grew up and wanted to become a priest. When he was asked, “Why do you want to become a priest?” he gave a very simple answer. “I want to do for other children what Mother Teresa has done for me. I want to love as she loved me. I want to serve as she served me.”
Today he is a priest devoted to loving all those who have nothing and no one---those who have forgotten what human love is, or the warmth of a human touch, or even the kindness of a smile.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another. (259)
46. May the love of Christ be a living bond between every two of us. From that others will realize that we are true Missionaries of Charity. (259)
47. In 1973 I accompanied my sisters to Ethiopia. The emperor asked me, “What are the sisters going to do here? What can they accomplish?”
I answered, “They will offer your people the love and kindness of Jesus.
He replied, “This is something new, a new coming of Christ” (259)
48. We should make a decision to do little things with great love. When Therese of Lisieux--—the little Flower—--died and was about to be canonized, everyone was asking, “What reason is there for the Holy Father to canonize her? She hasn’t done anything extraordinary The Holy Father pointed out in writing the reason for his decision: “I want to canonize her because she did ordinary things with extraordinary love.” (260)
49. This is one of the things that most impresses me. Wherever I go, I always hear about Co-workers who love one another in such a way that no one is able to sow disunity in their midst. There is a oneness of spirit and soul that binds them together, so that their oneness is unaffected even if they are sometimes far away from each other. This harmony is something that you must guard carefully. Don’t let anything come between you and your co-worker or threaten your harmony. If such a thing should happen, you will be Co-workers in name only and not from the heart. (260)
50. The first Christians died willingly for Jesus, and they were known for their love for one another. Never has the world had a greater need for love than in our day. People are hungry for love. (260)
51. Some time ago a Hindu gentleman was asked, “What is a Christian?” He gave an answer that was both very simple and surprising. “A Christian is someone who gives of himself.” (260)
52. To make it easier for us to love each other, Jesus has told us, “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you do it to me. When you receive a child in my name, you are receiving me” (Luke 9:48). “When you give a glass of water to somebody in my name, you give it to me” (Mark 9:41).
This is the love Jesus has brought to earth.
This is the love we must show to each other.
Why? Because he loved us first.
“Precisely because of the love that you will have for each other, they will recognize that you are my disciples, that you are Christians” (John 13:35). (261)
53. Christ uses me as an instrument to put you in touch with his poor. This is what I think happens when I go wherever I am called: many people are joined together by the sense of the common need for God. (261)
54. The unity of Christians is an important thing because Christians are a light for others. If we are Christians, we must look like Christ—--this is my deep conviction. (261)
55. Each time anyone comes in contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us. We must radiate God’s love. (261)
56. Our brothers and sisters are found scattered around the world. It is wonderful to see how people welcome us, to hear them exclaim, “The sisters and brothers are Christ’s love among us.” Remember me telling you how the sisters arrived in the Muslim country of Yemen. It was the first time in eight hundred years that a Catholic sister had been seen in that country. The head of the government of that country wrote to a priest in Rome, saying, “The sisters’ presence has kindled a new light in the lives of our people.” The sisters are not called Missionaries of Charity there. They are called the “Carriers of God’s Love.” (261)
57. Something Beautiful for God
Come with me into a world of poverty,
Into a land where men are dying endlessly,
Into a world of inhumanity
Can’t you see they’re starving, where’s your charity?
They laugh and cry, they’re people just like you and me,
They need help and not just sympathy.
Show each one something beautiful for God above,
Something beautiful to show your love,
Something beautiful for God above,
Something beautiful to show your love.
A day goes by, the night is long for everyone.
A child is crying, perhaps he’ll live to see the sun,
And yet he knows the morning may not come.
Throughout the world our brothers live in poverty,
They’re everywhere, if only we have eyes to see,
So look around and find your sanity.
Show to men the love that he has shown to you,
And feed his lambs as he has fed each one of you,
He loves them as much as he loves you. (262)
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