Mother Teresa on Love and 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.
I. On Love (20-35)
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.
By this evidence everyone will know that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another
—JESUS, JOHN 13:35 RSV
1. 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. How did Jesus love you and me? By giving His life.
God loves us with a tender love. That is all that Jesus came to teach us: the tender love of God. “I have called you by your name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1 NAB).
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.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with all thy mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV). This is the command of our great God, and He cannot command the impossible. Love is a fruit, in season at all times and within the reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set.
Everyone can reach this love through meditation, the spirit of prayer, and sacrifice, by an intense interior life. Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary.
2. What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize Him.
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 that 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. Loving must be as normal to us as living and breathing, day after day until our death.
3. I have experienced many human weaknesses, many human frailties, and I still experience them. But we need to use them. We need to work for Christ with a humble heart, with the humility of Christ. He comes and uses us to be His love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.
One day I picked up a man from the gutter. His body was covered with worms. I brought him to our house, and what did this man say? He did not curse. He did not blame anyone. He just said, “I’ve lived like an animal in the street, but I’m going to die like an angel, loved and cared for!” It took us three hours to clean him. Finally, the man looked up at the sister and said, “Sister, I’m going home to God.” Ai then he died. I’ve never seen such a radiant smile on a human face as the one I saw on that man’s face. He went home to God. See what love can do! It is possible that young sister did not think about it at the moment, but she was touching the body of Christ. Jesus said so when He said, “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40 RSV). And this is where you and I fit into God’s plan.
4. Let us understand the tenderness of God’s love. For He speaks in the Scripture, “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand” (see Isaiah 49:15—16). When you feel lonely, when you feel unwanted, when you feel sick and forgotten, remember you are precious to Him. He loves you. Show that love for one another, for this is all that Jesus came to teach us.
I remember a mother of twelve children, the last of them terribly mutilated. It is impossible for me to describe that creature. I volunteered to welcome the child into our house, where there are many others in similar conditions. The woman began to cry, “For God’s sake, Mother,” she said, “don’t tell me that. This creature is the greatest gift of God to me and my family. All our love is focused her. Our lives would be empty if you took her from us.” Hers was a love full of understanding and tenderness. Do we have a love like that today? Do we realize that our child, our husband, our wife, our father, our mother, our sister or brother, has a need for that understanding, for the warmth of our hand?
I will never forget one day in Venezuela when I went to visit a family who had given us a lamb. I went to thank them and there I found out that they had a badly crippled child. I asked the mother, “What is the child’s name?” The mother gave me a most beautiful answer. “We call him ‘Teacher of Love,’ because he keeps on teaching us how to love. Everything we do for him is our love for God in action.”
5. We have a great deal of worth in the eyes of God. I never tire of saying over and over again that God loves us. It is a wonderful thing that God Himself loves me tenderly. That is why we should have courage, joy, and the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
6. I feel that we too often focus only on the negative aspect of life on what is bad. If we were more willing to see the good and the beautiful things that surround us, we would be able to transform our families. From there, we would change our next-door neighbors and then others who live in our neighborhood or city. We would be able to bring peace and love to our world, which hungers so much for these things.
7. If we really want to conquer the world, we will not be able to do it with bombs or with other weapons of destruction. Let us conquer the world with our love. Let us interweave our lives with bonds of sacrifice and love, and it will be possible for us to conquer the world.
We do not need to carry out grand things in order to show a great love for God and for our neighbor. It is the intensity of love we put into our gestures that makes them into something beautiful for God.
Peace and war start within one’s own home. If we really want peace for the world, let us start by loving one another within our families. Sometimes it is hard for us to smile at one another. It is often difficult for the husband to smile at his wife or for the wife to smile at her husband.
In order for love to be genuine, it has to be above all a love for our neighbor. We must love those who are nearest to us, in our own family. From there, love spreads toward whoever may need us.
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.
I want you to go and find the poor in your homes. Above all, your love has to start there. I want you to be the good news to those around you. I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know who your neighbor is?
8. True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask Him to give us the courage to love.
From the abundance of the heart the mouth Speak If your heart is full of love, you will speak of love. I want you all to fill your hearts with great love. Don’t imagine that love, to be true and burning, must be extraordinary. No; what we need in our love is the continuous desire to love the One we love.
9. One day I found among the debris a woman who was burning with fever. About to die, she kept repeating, “It is my son who has done it!” I took her in my arms and carried her home to the convent. On the way I urged her to forgive her son. It took a good while before I could hear her say, “Yes, I forgive him.” She said it with a feeling of genuine forgiveness, just as she was about to pass away. The woman was not aware that she was suffering, that she was burning with fever, that she was dying. What was breaking her heart was her own son’s lack of love.
Holy souls sometimes undergo great inward trial, and they know darkness. But if we want others to become aware of the presence of Jesus, we must be the first ones convinced of it.
10. There are thousands of people who would love to have what we have, yet God has chosen us to be where we are today to share the joy of loving others. He wants us to love one another, to give ourselves to each other until it hurts. It does not matter how much we give, but how much love we put into our giving.
In the words of our Holy Father, each one of us must be able “to cleanse what is dirty, to warm what is lukewarm, to strengthen what is weak, to enlighten what is dark.” We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as He loved.
Where God is, there is love; and where there is love, there always is an openness to serve. The world is hungry for 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.
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.
11. Always be faithful in little things, for in them our strength lies. To God nothing is little. He cannot make anything small; they are infinite. Practice fidelity in the least things, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the great thing that is the will of God, and which I respect greatly.
Do not pursue spectacular deeds. We must deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God. What matters is the gift of yourself, the degree of love that you put into each one of your actions.
Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as you have done your best. Neither glory in your success, but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness.
If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. The Lord has willed me here where I am. He will offer a solution.
12. When we handle the sick and the needy we touch the suffering body of Christ and this touch will make us heroic; it will make us forget the repugnance and the natural tendencies in us. We need the eyes of deep faith to see Christ in the broken body and dirty clothes under which the most beautiful one among the sons of men hides. We shall need the hands of Christ to touch these bodies wounded by pain and suffering. Intense love does not measure—it just gives.
13. Our works of charity are nothing but the overflow of our love of God from within.
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.
Charity, to be fruitful, must cost us. Actually we hear so much about charity, yet we never give it its full importance: God put the commandment of loving our neighbor on the same footing as the first commandment.
14. In order for us to be able to love, we need to have faith because faith is love in action; and love in action is service. In order for us to be able to love, we have to see and touch. Faith in action through prayer, faith in action through service: each is the same thing, the same love, the same compassion.
15. Some years have gone by, but I will never forget a young French girl who came to Calcutta. She looked so worried. She went to work in our home for dying destitutes. Then, after ten days, she came to see me. She hugged me and said, “I’ve found Jesus!” I asked where she found Jesus, “In the home for dying destitutes,” she answered. “And what did you do after you found Him?” “I went to confession and Holy Communion for the first time in fifteen years.” Then I said again, “What else did you do?” “I sent my parents a telegram saying that I found Jesus.” I looked at her and I said, “Now, pack up and go home. Go home and give joy, love, and peace to your parents.” She went home radiating joy, because her heart was filled with joy; and what joy she brought to her family! Why? Because she had lost the innocence of her youth and had gotten it back again.
16. God loves a cheerful giver. The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is a normal result of a heart burning with love. Joy is strength. The poor felt attracted to Jesus because a higher power dwelt in Him and flowed from Him—out of His eyes, His hands, His body—completely released and present to God and to men.
Let nothing so disturb us, so fill us with sorrow or discouragement, as to make us forfeit the joy of the resurrection. Joy is not simply a matter of temperament in the service of God and souls; it is always hard. All the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts. We may not be able to give much but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is in love with God,
All over the world people are hungry and thirsty for God’s love. We meet that hunger by spreading joy. Joy is one of the best safeguards against temptation. Jesus can take full possession of our soul only if it surrenders itself joyfully.
17. Someone once asked me, “Are you married?” And I said, “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because He can be very demanding.”
God is within me with a more intimate presence than that whereby I am in myself: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NAB). It is He who gives life to all, who gives power and being to all that exists. But for His sustaining presence, all things would cease to be and fall back into nothingness. Consider that you are in God, surrounded and encompassed by God, swimming in God. God’s love is infinite. With God, nothing is impossible.
At the end our life, we shall be judged by love.
— SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Jesus, JOHN 3:16 RSV
II. 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 themselves 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