Mother Teresa and the Thirsty Christ

by | Jun 27, 2023 | 5 Merciful

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

From the beginning of her life and ministry, Mother Teresa took very personally Christ’s words from the cross, “I thirst.”  She knew where to find him – on the streets in every encounter with the poor.  This was her burning bush, the call that galvanized her activity until her death.  Thus, she instructed the Missionaries of Charity:

“I thirst,” Jesus said on the cross when Jesus was deprived of every consolation, dying in absolute Poverty, left alone, despised and broken in body and soul. He spoke of his thirst – not for water – but for love, for sacrifice… Jesus is God: therefore, His love, His thirst is infinite.  Our aim is to quench this infinite thirst….[1]

Mother Teresa reminded the sisters of the thirsty Christ repeatedly with the motto, “You did it to me,”[2] from Jesus’ assurance, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 5:40).

If God calls you to bring water to the thirsty Christ in service to the materially poor, do it. No calling exceeds that.  Yet, Mother Teresa understood poverty broadly to include the lonely, even among the privileged.  She said:

Recently a man met me on the street. He said… “Please send somebody to my house.  My wife is half mental and I am half blind.  But we are longing to hear the loving sound of a human voice.”  They were well-to-do people… Yet they were dying of loneliness…
How do we know someone like that is not next to our house? Do we know who they are, where they are?  Let us find them and… love them…Today God loves the world so much that He gives you, He gives me, to love the world, to be His love, His compassion…

Do we know who the poor are? Do we know our neighbor, the poor of our own area?  It is so easy for us to talk and talk about the poor of other places.  Very often we have the suffering, we have the lonely, we have the people – old, unwanted, feeling miserable – and they are near us and we don’t even know them.  We have no time even to smile at them.
walking_awayTuberculosis and cancer [are] not the great diseases. I think a much greater disease is to be unwanted, unloved.  The pain that these people suffer is very difficult to understand, to penetrate.  I think this is what our people all over the world are going through, in every family, in every home.

This suffering is being repeated in every man, woman and child. I think Christ is undergoing his Passion again.  And it is for you and me to help them…[3]

Related Post

Mother Teresa: The Heart of a Saint

[1] Quoted in Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta/Mother Teresa. (New York: Doubleday, 2007),  p. 41.
[2] Ibid. pp. 290-294.
[3] Ibid. pp. 295-296.


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