Service to Our Family and Others by Mother Teresa

Service to Our Family and Others by Mother Teresa

    Many people find it easy to give service to people outside their homes, but Mother Teresa said:

If anyone wants to help me, let them begin at home. There is help needed on your doorstep, in your place of work, in your office and in your factory” (The Joy in Loving, November 30).  

“You will find Calcutta all over the world if you have eyes to see. The streets of Calcutta lead to every man’s door. I know that you may want to make a trip to Calcutta, but it is easy to love people far away. It is not always easy to love those people who live beside us. What about the ones I dislike or look down upon?” (The Joy in Loving25 April)

“I think the world today is upside-down, and is suffering so much, because there is so very little love in the homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. . . . 

Love begins at home; love lives in homes, and that is why there is so much suffering and so much unhappiness in the world today. If we listen to Jesus he will tell us what he said before: ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’ He has loved us through suffering, dying on the Cross for us, and so if we are to love one another, if we are to bring that love into life again, we have to begin at home.”(A Gift for God, 17-18)

But, many of us find it so trying to perform service for the people who are near us. Why? Because, who can love a demanding, an exacting, an unreasonable, an irritable, a hot-tempered, or a manipulative relative or friend or colleague? How can we love them? Who would be able to care for them? Who wants to be close to them? Often, their faults are magnified beyond what they actually are. They are the unloved ones, the unwanted ones, and the uncared ones in our relationship with them. Such individuals are unlovable and undesirable. Our natural reaction to such a person is to get impatient, angry, frustrated, and blast away. Mother Teresa said: 

It is easy to smile at people outside your own home. It is so easy to take care of the people that you don’t know well. It is difficult to be thoughtful and kind and to smile and be loving to your own in the house day after day, especially when we are tired and in a bad temper or bad mood. We all have these moments and that is the time that Christ comes to us in distressing disguise.” (The Joy in Loving, 65)

“A co-worker is a person who puts her love for God into living action and service to the poor. Where? In the family first and then for others. We must not neglect our homes and go out before we have started inside and begin with ourselves first. Then, because we have practiced that, we are able to give to others.” (The Joy in Loving, 182)

Therefore, it is high time for us to change our mind set and thinking and come to see that the service we perform and the work we do for our family members and for others are an expression of our love for God put into practice. Since it is an expression of our love for God put into practice, we have to do the work with lots of love, laughter and smiles. Mother Teresa said: 

“In your family, if it is your vocation to have a family, love one another as husband and wife and have a family. The service you perform and the work you accomplish are your love for God put into practice.” (One Heart Full of Love, 43)

The work that each one of you carries out in your families for those you love is an expression of your love for God. Love starts at home. For your love to be real, it cannot waver at home.” (One Heart Full of Love, 91)

“ What you and I must do is nothing less than putting our love for Christ into practice. The important thing is not how much we accomplish, but how much love we put into our deeds every dayThat is the measure of our love for God.”(One Heart Full of Love, 26)

How, then, do we put our love into practice at home and at work? Maybe the following definitions can help:

  • Love is not being irritable
  • Love is not boastful
  • Love is not arrogant 
  • Love is not proud
  • Love is not rude
  • Love is not bragging about oneself
  • Love is not being bitter
  • Love is not being aggressive
  • Love is not doing heroic acts
  • Love is not doing extraordinary acts
  • Love is not speaking in tongues
  • Love is not prophesying
  • Love is not about knowing all mysteries and all science
  • Love is not even having extraordinary faith
  • Love is not even giving all one’s goods to the poor
  • Love is not even being martyred
  • Love is not being jealous 
  • Love is not searching for the evil in others
  • Love is not rejoicing in injustice
  • Love is not exaggerating one’s own qualities
  • Love is doing nothing that can bruise others
  • Love does not insist on its own way
  • Love does not gossip
  • Love does not distort
  • Love does not condone injustice
  • Love does not incriminate
  • Love does not suspect
  • Love never divides
  • Love never sows seeds of dissensions
  • Love never judges
  • Love never condemns

BUT. . . . .

  • Love is giving the best we have
  • Love is putting the interest of others above our own
  • Love is being patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love is sharing
  • Love is rending service
  • Love is without servility
  • Love is without arrogance
  • Love is seeking the truth in all things
  • Love is growth in joy and patience
  • Love is growth in goodness 
  • Love is growth in generosity
  • Love is growth in fidelity
  • Love is growth in tenderness
  • Love is growth in self-control
  • Love is the opposite of all our tendencies to division—hatred, quarrelling, jealousy, rage, disputes, dissension, schism,
  • Love promotes no discord
  • Love unites
  • Love overcomes
  • Love purifies
  • Love dignifies
  • Love saves
  • Love spreads joy
  • Love brings happiness
  • Love takes initiative
  • Love bears all things
  • Love believes all things
  • Love hopes all things 
  • Love endures all things
  • Love is communion, communion with God and with our brothers and sisters
  • Love is manifested in all the little things of life that build community

We have to constantly remind ourselves that it isn’t how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do that really counts. And what we do every day are the little things and not the grand thingsSo what are these little things we do to build a happy home? They are:

·        Our smiles

·        Our laughter

·        Our kisses

·        Our embraces

·        Our encouragement

·        Our support

·        Our hugs

·        Our gratitude

·        Our thanks

·        Our care

·        Our welcome

·        Our compassion

·        Our gentleness

·        Our trust in God

·        Our kindness

·        Our goodness

·        Our patience

·        Our humility

·        Our hospitality

·        Our presence

·        Our friendship

·        Our words of love

·        Our acts of love

·        Our every gesture of love

·        Our every little bit of joy

·        Our faithfulness

·        Our peace

·        Our hopes

·        Our gifts

·        Our every word of forgiveness

Mother Teresa said, “We know that if we really want to love, we must learn to forgive. Forgive and ask to be forgiven, excuse rather than accuse. Reconciliation begins first, not with others but ourselves. It starts with having a clean heart within. A clean heart is able to see God in others. We must radiate God’s love.” (The Joy in Loving, 4 March)

“We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly.” (“A Gift for God”, 18)

So, every day, we are all challenged and called to be like saints for one another in performing our best service to our family and others.

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