Mother Teresa on Love Begins At Home from Brian Kolodiejchuk
All the passages below are taken from Brian Kolodiejchuk’s book “Mother Teresa—Where there is Love, There is God” published in 2010. This book is in some ways a sequel to “Mother Teresa—Come Be My Light,” published in 2007.
How do you know, love, and serve [God]? How do you prove that you love Him? In the family, the father proves his love by all that he does for his children, for his wife. We prove our love for Jesus by what we do, by who we are.
For each one of us, for you and for me, it is necessary first of all to love those in our own family. Maybe we have the suffering and the lonely and the crippled and the mental in our own family; and we have no time no time even to smile at them. And love begins at home. If you really want to be God’s love in the world of today, begin to be God’s love in your own home first. And then you will become the sunshine of God’s love to everyone you meet.
THE TRINITY AND THE BLESSED FAMILY
Community life is connected with Blessed Trinity—that oneness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Again we have Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—that oneness and unity of family life in Nazareth. That’s why we religious must be united as a family. Our Constitution has it, “We all have to make our community another Nazareth where Our Lord can come and rest awhile.” From all the unhappiness of the world, all the hatred of people, all the killin—from all that, Jesus can come and rest in Bethany.
BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER
As we know the heart of the family is the mother and today, if there is much trouble in the world it is because the mother is not acting as a mother, as the heart of the family. We read in the Gospel, something that looks impossible, “Even if a mother forgets her child I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand.”1 Today the mother is doing that which is impossible—killing her own child. Today, let us look into our own hearts and see if there is anything there that is preventing me from my mother. Even Jesus could not come, even Jesus could not be born, even Jesus could not grow without a mother’s love. Who is our mother? When Jesus was dying, His last words were, “Behold your Mother,”2 and from that time Mary has appeared so many times, in so many places. Why do people go to Lourdes and Fatima and Velankanni?3 Because we all need a mother’s love, a mother’s care.
GOD’S LOVE FOR CHILDREN
We will ask Our Lady to be a mother to us as she was the Mother of Jesus and she taught Jesus how to live the life beautifully in His family at Nazareth. I am very happy to be with you because Jesus had a very special love for children. And many children came to see Jesus and the apostles said, “Don’t come,” but Jesus said “Let the children come to me.”4 I love them.” You know God loves you so much—that is why Jesus comes amongst us and He again and again said “love one another as I have loved you.”5 Jesus loved us so much that He died on the Cross for us and to remain with us, He remains in the Blessed Sacrament. And so most of you have received Jesus and you remember that when He comes in our heart because He loves us so much. We have in India and other places many, many, many children, many poor children. Many of them have no one to love them. That is why you must thank God for giving you such wonderful parents who love you so much.
THE SUNSHINE OF GOD’S LOVE IN YOUR NOME
You must make your home a center of burning love, the sunshine of God’s love must be in your home first. You must be that hope of eternal happiness to your husband, to your wife, to your child, to your grandfather, grandmother, to your servants—whoever is connected with you. You are working in a big firm, you are a co-worker, but you don’t even know your people. There you have to be the burning flame of God’s love to the people that are working with you or working for you. Can they look up and see the joy of loving in your face? Can they look up and see the joy of a clean heart? Can they look up and see Jesus in you? This is very important for a co-worker. And how to do we reach to that? By prayer. Love begins at home, prayer begins at home, and the family that prays together, stays together. And if you stay together, you will pray together, you will love one another if you stay together.
CONTINUING THE LOVE IN OUR CHILDREN
If we help our children to be what they should be today, I think tomorrow, when tomorrow comes, when tomorrow becomes today, they will have courage to face it with greater love and right from the very beginning as the love begins at home. I think we should teach our children that love for one another at home and they can learn that only from their father and mother, if they see that love of the father for the mother and mother’s love for the father, I think that will be the strength of our children to be able to continue that love in the future.
ARE WE PRESENT?
I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where there were all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten, maybe. I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking toward the door. I did not see a single one with a smile on their face. I turned to the sister and I asked, “How is that? How is it that these people, who have everything here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?” I am so used to see the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. She said, “This is nearly every day. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see—this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there, in our own home [we] even neglect to love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there? Are we there to receive them? Is the mother there to receive the child?
No ONE UNWANTED
Love begins at home. See that in your family never [anyone] no man, no woman, no child, no unborn child feels unwanted. Do not be afraid to love as God loves you with a tender love, with a concern, with a worry where is my child, like Mary and Joseph walked back. They looked for Him for three days. They did not rest until they found the Child. Do we feel like that? My husband, my wife, my child where? How? Worried? Sick? Lonely? Am I the joy to him or to her? What is my concern maybe just a smile, maybe just a little flower to bring, maybe just a little shake of hand.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF GOD TO THE FAMILY
And it is strange to say that it was that unborn child [John the Baptist] that recognized the presence, the reason for Christ’s coming, that He has come to proclaim the good news to the poor.”6 What was the good news that Christ had come to give? That God is love,7 that God loves you, God loves me. But God has made you and made me for greater things: to love and to be loved. We are not just a number in the world—that’s why it is so wonderful to recognize the presence of that unborn child, the gift of God. The greatest gift of God to a family is the child because it is the fruit of love. And [it is] so wonderful today that God has created that child, has created you, has created me, that very poor person in the street, that hungry person, that naked person. He has created in His image to love and to be loved—not just a number. And there is something very beautiful in the Scripture also where God speaks and He says: “Even if mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand,8 you are precious to me, I have called you by your name.”9 That is why as soon as a child is born, we give it a name, the name God has called from all eternity to love and to be loved … the most beautiful creation of God’s love, the gift of God.
LOVE OF THE CHILD
Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of “freedom” can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God’s gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women: the ability to love as a woman. God told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”10 So first I am to love myself rightly, and then to love my neighbor like that. But how can I love myself unless I accept myself as God has made me? Those who deny the beautiful differences between men and women are not accepting themselves as God has made them, and so cannot love the neighbor. They will only bring division, unhappiness, and destruction of peace to the world.
A GIFT FROM GOD
I remember in Calcutta a lady came and she has thirteen children and she has to work, her husband has to work and the first child was completely disabled child, completely. And I told her, “Give me that child, we will take care of the child. You have to do so much.” And the mother looked at me and she said, “Mother, what are you saying? That child is a gift of God. All of us that little one is teaching us how to love, that little one is giving us a beautiful joy, beautiful chance how to love God by doing little things each one of us has a part to play in that child’s life and that child plays a very important part in our life.” Then this … a non-Christian would speak to me like that and so I think this is a wonderful lesson for us, wonderful lesson, that she had the courage not to throw away the child, not to put the child in some institution, the gift of God, our child, my brother, my sister. It’s wonderful and I taught that it was only the mother who spoke like that, so I went to the family and I saw the little children so busy somebody doing this, somebody doing that for that little one … the youngest one trying to make him laugh and pulling the chain and pulling the chain to make that crippled child respond to his smile. See, this is something so beautiful.
FAMILY AND PRAYER
The coming of Jesus at Christmas completed the Holy Family. We must bring that presence of God into our families. And how do we do that? By praying. The family that prays together stays together, and it you stay together, you will love one another. If you pray, your heart will become clean, and a clean heart can see God.
At that first Christmas, there was no room in the inn for Jesus.”11 He, being God, became so humble, so small, so helpless. He became dependent on a human mother.
Today, Jesus is still humble, small and helpless in the unborn, and in those who are materially or spiritually poor, hungry for love and friendship, ignorant of the riches of the love of God for them, homeless for want of a home made of love in your heart. He is hungry, naked, sick and homeless in your own heart, in your family, in your neighbors. Are we there to welcome Him, to offer a word of comfort, a smile?
When our attention is turned only to the parties and the presents, it becomes too easy to forget Christ at Christmas. Let us not forget the best and the most wonderful Gift that God has given to us Jesus. And let us give Jesus to each other, beginning in our families, by loving each other with a tender and most personal love as God loves each one of us.
From our own actions we can always tell what tomorrow will be. For example, like when we hear the cry of the unborn child … we know where we are going, that it cannot bring happiness in the world, cannot bring peace in the world, because if a mother can murder her own child, what is left for us to murder each other. And so, looking at that today, that cannot bring peace, that cannot bring joy, therefore, the future looks very dark from that point…. I think we are forgetting that we have been created for greater things. We forget that we have been created to love and to be loved and that we have been created in the image of God. And so forgetting that, we forget all that is beautiful, all that is sacred, all that is … and I think that is coming especially from the break in the family life because less and less we are together, less and less we pray together. And if we don’t pray together, then it is impossible to live together.
Jesus came to give us the good news how to love one another and where does this love begin at home. In our family. How does it begin? By praying together. Because the family that prays together, stays together, and if you stay together, you will love one another as God loves you. And if today we have so much difficulty in the world, it is because in our family we are not praying together. We have so many broken homes, so many separated families, why? Because the love has died, because we are not praying. If we pray, we have a clean heart and a clean heart can see God, can love as God loves. So let us bring prayer back again in our family. Ask to teach to us, to teach your children. Ask, I ask you parents teach your children how to pray and pray with them. Let them see you pray and by looking at you, by praying with you, they will learn to pray, and if they learn to pray, they will learn to love. And if they learn to love, they will learn to share that love with each other, first in your own family and then in their own.[277-285]
1.Cf. Is 49:15
2.Cf. Jn 19:27
3. A Shrine to Our Lady of Good Health located on the Bay of Bengal
4.Cf. Lk 18:16
5.Cf. Jn 13:34
6.Cf. Lk 1:44
7. 1 Jn 4:8, 16
8. Is 49:15-16
9. Is 43:1, 4
10.Cf. Lev 19:18; Mt 19:19, 22:39; Mk 12:31,33
11.Cf Lk 2:7