Mother Teresa on Jesus Christ edited by Becky Benenate and Joseph Durepos
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “No Greater Love,” edited by Becky Benenate and Joseph Durepos.
On Jesus Christ (78-90)
Jesus is the truth that must be shared.
— MOTHER TERESA
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, in fact, will do greater works than these. If in my name you ask for anything, I will do it.
— JESUS, JOHN 14:12—14 RSV
1. There is a story of a little robin. He saw Jesus on the cross, saw the crown of thorns. The bird flew around and around until he found a way to remove a thorn, and in removing the thorn stuck himself.
Each one of us should be that bird. What have I done? What comfort have I given? Does my work really mean something? The little robin tried to remove just one thorn. When I look at the cross, I think of that robin. Don’t pass by the cross; it is a place of grace.
We often look without seeing. Am I able to see the poor and suffering? All of us have to carry our own cross, all of us have to accompany Jesus in His ascent to Calvary if we want to reach the summit with Him. Sacrifice, in order to be genuine, has to empty us of ourselves. Jesus has chosen each one of us to be His love and His light in the world.
Remember, He has chosen us; we have not first chosen Him. We must respond by making something beautiful for God—something very beautiful. For this we must give our all, our utmost. We must cling to Jesus, grasp Him, have a grip on Him, and never let go for anything. We must fall in love with Jesus.
2. By my vow of chastity, I not only renounce the married state of life, but I also consecrate to God the free use of my internal and external acts, my affections. I cannot in conscience love another with the love of a woman for a man. I no longer have the right to give that affection to any other creature but only to God.
What, then? Do we have to be stones, human beings without hearts? Do we simply say, “I don’t care; to me all human beings are the same”? No, not at all. We have to keep ourselves as we are, but keep it all for God, to whom we have consecrated all our external and internal acts.
3. Chastity does not simply mean that I am not married. It means that I love Christ with an undivided love. It is something deeper, something living, something real. It is to love Him with undivided, loving chastity through the freedom of poverty.
The words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you,” (John 15:12 RSV) must be not only a light for us but a flame that consumes the self in us. Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self. Renouncing means to offer my free will, my reason, my life, in an attitude of faith. My soul can be in darkness; trials are the surest tests of my blind renunciation. Renunciation also means love. The more we renounce, the more we love God and man.
4. Am I convinced of Christ’s love for me and mine for Him? This conviction is like a sunlight that makes the sap of life rise and the buds of sanctity bloom. This conviction is the rock on which sanctity is built. What must we do to get this conviction? We must know Jesus, love Jesus, serve Jesus. We know Him through prayers, meditations, and spiritual duties. We love Him through Holy Mass and the sacraments and through that intimate union of love. We must endeavor to live alone with Him in the sanctuary of our inmost heart.
In his passion our Lord says, “Thy will be done. Do with me what you want.” And that was the hardest thing for our Lord even at the last moment. They say that the passion in Gethsemane was much greater than even the crucifixion. Because it was His heart, His soul that was being crucified, while on the cross, it was His body that was crucified. And the only way that we know that it was so difficult for Him that hour is that He asked, “Why could you not spend one hour with me?” We know He needed consolation. This is total surrender—not to be loved by anybody, not to be wanted by anybody, just to be a nobody because we have given all to Christ.
5. When Jesus came into the world, He loved it so much that He gave His life for it. He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did He do? He made Himself the Bread of Life. He became small, fragile and defenseless for us. Bits of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it. He became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for God, our hunger for love.
I don’t think we could have ever loved God if Jesus had not become one of us. So that we might be able to love God, He became one of us in all things, except sin. If we have been created in the image of God, then we have been created to love, because God is love. In his passion Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. Find Jesus, and you will find peace.
6. Don’t allow anything to interfere with your love for Jesus. You belong to Him. Nothing can separate you from Him. That one sentence is important to remember. He will be your joy, your strength. If you hold onto that sentence, temptations and difficulties will come, but nothing will break you. Remember, you have been created for great things.
You must not be afraid to say “Yes” to Jesus, because there is no greater love than His love and no greater joy than His joy. My prayer for you is that you come to understand and have the courage to answer Jesus’ call to you with the simple word, “Yes.” Why has He chosen you? Why me? This is a mystery.
Christ said, “I was hungry and you gave me food,” He was hungry not only for bread but for the understanding love of being loved, of being known, of being someone to someone. He was naked not only of clothing but of human dignity and of respect, through the injustice that is done to the poor, who are looked down upon simply because they are poor. He was dispossessed not only of a house made of bricks but because of the dispossession of those who are locked up, of those who are unwanted and unloved, of those who walk through the world with no one to care for them.
You may go out into the street and have nothing to say, but maybe there is a man standing there on the corner and you go to him. Maybe he resents you, but you are there, and that presence is there. You must radiate that presence that is within you, in the way you address that man with love and respect. Why? Because you believe that is Jesus. Jesus cannot receive you — for this, you must know how to go to Him. He comes disguised in the form of that person there. Jesus, in the least of His brethren, is not only hungry for a piece of bread, but hungry for love, to be known, to be taken into account.
7. What is my spiritual life? A love union with Jesus in which the divine and the human give them selves completely to one another. All that Jesus asks of me is to give myself to Him in all my poverty and nothingness.
Jesus said, “Learn of me.” In our meditations we should always say, “Jesus, make me a saint according to your own heart, meek and humble.” We must respond in the spirit in which Jesus meant us to respond. We know Him better through meditations, and the study of the gospel, but have we really understood Him in His humility?
One thing Jesus asks of me: that I lean on Him; that in Him and only in Him I put complete trust; that I surrender myself to Him unreservedly. Even when all goes wrong and I feel as if I am a ship without a compass, I must give myself completely to Him. I must not attempt to control God’s action; I must not count the stages in the journey He would have me make. I must not desire a clear perception of my advance upon the road, must not know precisely where I am upon the way of holiness. I ask Him to make a saint of me, yet I must leave to Him the choice of the saintliness itself and still more the means that lead to it.
8. Hungry for love, He looks at you.
Thirsty for kindness, He begs from you.
Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you.
Sick and imprisoned for friendship, He wants from you.
Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you.
Will you be that one to Him?
9. The simplicity of our life of contemplation makes us see the face of God in everything, everyone, and everywhere, all the time. His hand in all happenings makes us do all that we do—whether we think, study, work, speak, eat, or take our rest—in Jesus, with Jesus, for Jesus and to Jesus, under the loving gaze of the Father, being totally available to Him in any form He may come to us.
I am deeply impressed by the fact that before explaining the Word of God, before presenting to the crowds the eight beatitudes, Jesus had compassion on them and gave them food. Only then did He begin to teach them.
Love Jesus generously. Love him trustfully, without looking back and without fear. Give yourself fully to Jesus. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness. Believe in Him, trust in Him with a blind and absolute confidence because He is Jesus. Believe that Jesus and Jesus alone is life, and sanctity is nothing but that same Jesus intimately living in you; then His hand will be free with you.
10. Who is Jesus to me?
Jesus is the Word made flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the cross.
Jesus is the sacrifice offered at holy Mass for the sins of the world and for mine.
Jesus is the Word to be spoken.
Jesus is the truth to be told.
Jesus is the way to be walked.
Jesus is the light to be lit.
Jesus is the life to be lived,
Jesus is the love to be loved.
Jesus is the joy to be shared.
Jesus is the peace to be given.
Jesus is the hungry to be fed.
Jesus is the thirsty to be satiated,
Jesus is the naked to be clothed.
Jesus is the homeless to be taken in,
Jesus is the sick to be healed,
Jesus is the lonely to be loved.
Jesus is the unwanted to be wanted,
Jesus is the leper to wash His wounds.
Jesus is the beggar to give Him a smile,
Jesus is the drunkard to listen to Him.
Jesus is the mentally ill to protect Him,
Jesus is the little one to embrace Him,
Jesus is the blind to lead Him.
Jesus is the dumb to speak for Him.
Jesus is the crippled to walk with Him.
Jesus is the drug addict to befriend Him.
Jesus is the prostitute to remove from danger and befriend Her.
Jesus is the prisoner to be visited.
Jesus is the old to be served,
To me: Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my spouse.
Jesus is my life.
Jesus is my only love.
Jesus is my all in all.
Jesus is my everything.
11. JESUS, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being. I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in all tenderness and love.
I am no longer my own. Whether I live or whether I die, I belong to my Saviour. I have nothing of my own. God is my all, and my whole being is His.
I will have nothing to do with a love that would be for God or in God. I cannot bear the word for or the word in, because they denote something that may be in between God and me.
— SAINT CATHERINE OF GENOA
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. I have said these things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
— JESUS, JOHN 15:9-15 RSV