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Monsignor Yennock on St. Teresa of Calcutta - Homily from Sept. 11, 2015

Sep 12, 2016

CALCUTTA TO ROME

CANONIZATION OF MOTHER TERESA SEPT. 4, 2016

TWENTY FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME SEPTEMBER 11, 2016

WHEN SHE DIED ON SEPTEMBER 5, 1997 AT THE AGE OF 87, THE PRESIDENT OF FRANCE SAID: “THIS EVENING THERE IS LESS LOVE, LESS COMPASSION, LESS LIGHT IN THE WORLD.”

QUEENS AND FIRST LADIES, PRESIDENTS AND PRIME MINISTERS, FORMER HEADS OF STATE, MINISTERS AND ENVOYS FROM OVER 23 COUNTRIES GATHERED TO PAY THEIR FINAL RESPECTS.

SHE WAS GIVEN A STATE FUNERAL USUALLY RESERVED FOR POLITICAL FIGURES AND HEADS OF STATE. THREE GENERALS PLACED THE WHITE PALL ON HER COFFIN. HER FUNERAL WAS HELD IN AN INDOOR STADIUM THAT HELD 15,000 PEOPLE.

MILLIONS LINED THE STREETS IN CALCUTTA AND THROUGHOUT INDIA. MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN KNEW THAT THEY HAD LOST A MOTHER.

PEOPE OF ALL FAITHS STILL COME TO PRAY AT HER TOMB. THEY ARE HINDUS, BUDDHISTS, SIKHS, JEWS AND CHRISTIANS. MOTHER TERESA MINISTERRED TO PEOPLE OF ALL RELIGIONS; AND WHEN SHE DIED THEY DID NOT FORGET HER.

SHE SAID OF HERSELF: “BY BLOOD I AM ALBANIAN, BY CITIZENSHIP I AM INDIAN, AND BY FAITH I AM A CATHOLIC MISSIONARY NUN.”  SHE NEVER COMPROMISED HER FAITH AND THEY RESPECTED THIS WOMAN FOR HER STRONG CONVICTIONS.

LAST SUNDAY, IN ROME, ALMOST 150,000 PEOPLE GATHERED IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE TO HONOR A WOMAN WHO WAS A FRIEND OF JESUS. SHE SAW THE FACE OF JESUS IN EVERY LEPER, IN EVERY AIDS PATIENT, IN EVERY SICK AND DYING PERSON.

LAST SUNDAY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD WATCHED THE CANONIZATION ON TELEVISION SCREENS. IS THERE ANYBODY IN THE WORLD WHO HAS NOT HEARD OF MOTHER TERESA?

IN THE GOSPEL TODAY THE THREE PARABLES ARE ABOUT SOMETHING LOST AND FOUND. MANY CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD HAD LOST A SENSE OF JESUS.THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHERE TO FIND HIM.

MOTHER TERESA FOUND HIM FOR US IN THE CRIPPLED, THE MENTALLY ILL, THE UNWANTED AND THE UNLOVED. SHE RADIATED A JOY THAT WAS CONTAGIOUS BECAUSE SHE HAD FOUND THE FACE OF JESUS IN DISGUISE.

IN 1929 SHE ARRIVED IN INDIA AND BEGAN HER NOVITIATE NEAR THE HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINS WHERE SHE LEARNED TO SPEAK BENGALI. IN 1937 SHE TOOK SOLEMN VOWS WHILE SHE WAS TEACHING AT A CONVENT SCHOOL IN EASTERN CALCUTTA. SHE WAS AN EXCELLENT TEACHER BUT SHE NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING MORE IN HER LIFE.

IN 1946 WHILE SHE WAS TRAVELLING ON A TRAIN SHE EXPERIENCED A SPIRITUAL MOMENT IN WHICH CHRIST CALLED HER TO BE HIS LIGHT. SHE ANSWERED THE INVITATION OF JESUS AND FOUNDED THE MISSIONARY SISTERS OF CHARITY.

IN 1950 THE NEW CONGREGATION OF THE MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY WAS OFFICIALLY ESTABLISHED IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CALCUTTA.  ALMOST MIRACULOUSLY THE SISTERS WERE IN HIGH DEMAND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

THEY WENT TO OTHER PARTS OF INDIA AND THEN TO VENEZUELA, ROME, TANZANIA, THE SOVIET UNION, ALBANIA, CUBA, THE UNITED STATES AND EVENTUALLY TO EVERY CONTINENT.

BY 1997 THE SISTERS NUMBERED OVER 4000 MEMBERS. THEY ESTABLISHED 610 FOUNDATIONS IN 127 COUNTRIES.

MOTHER TERESA WAS NOT A POLITICAL FIGURE BUT SHE HAD A POLITICIAN’S SENSE OF ISSUES AND TIMING. SHE KNEW THAT IN MODERN-DAY INDIA, A NATION OF NEARLY A BILLION PEOPLE, THE BIGGEST ISSUE OF ALL WAS POVERTY.

IN ADDITION TO THE VOWS OF POVERTY, CHASITITY AND OBEDIENCE HER SISTERS TOOK A FOURTH VOW TO SERVE ONLY THE POOREST OF THE POOR. EVEN TO THIS DAY, WHEN A BISHOP INVITES THE MISSIONARIES INTO HIS DIOCESE THEY VISIT THE AREA FIRST TO SEE IF THEY WILL BE WORKING WITH THE POOREST OF THE POOR.

LIKE GANDHI, MOTHER TERESA WAS AN UNOFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE POOR EVERYWHERE. WHAT BUSINESS DID A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY HAVE REPRESENTING INDIA ON THE GLOBAL STAGE? EVEN HINDU FUNDAMENTALISTS AND MOSLEMS DID NOT DARE ASK THAT QUESTION. PEOPLE OF ALL RELIGIONS KNIEW THAT SHE WAS FOR REAL. THEY KNEW THAT SHE HAD NO HIDDEN AGENDA.

WHEN SHE SPOKE, ALL INDIA LISTENED—THE WORLD TOOK NOTICE THAT SHE DREW LARGER CROWDS, AND INVITED GREATER AFFECTION THAN ANY PUBLIC FIGURE. 

HER FRAIL BODY PACKED MORE POWER THAN ANY OTHER CONTEMPORARY WORLD LEADER. GANDHI HAD SPIRITUAL POWER BECAUSE HE FASTED FROM TEMPORAL FOOD. MOTHER TERESA HAD SPIRITUAL POWER BECAUSE SHE THE ETERNAL FOOD OF THE EUCHARIST.

THE BARONS OF GLOBAL FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STUDY PROGRAMS THAT GENERATE REPORTS TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY. THIS LITTLE WOMAN, IN A SIMPLE WHITE COTTON SARI WITH A BLUE STRIPE DIDN’T BOTHER MUCH WITH REPORTS AND THEORIES ABOUT POVERTY; INSTEAD MOTHER TERESA SIMPLY WENT OUT INTO THE SLUMS AND ONE BY ONE CHANGED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

THE WORLD RECOGNIZED HER WORK. SHE WON THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL OF HONOR AND THE UNITED NATIONS ALBERT SCHWEITZER PRIZE.

WITH MOTHER TERESA THERE WAS LITTLE TALK, MUCH PRAYER, AND ENDLESS, HANDS-ON WORK WITH THE SICK AND DYING. SHE FED THEM, SHE SHELTERED THEM, AND CLEANED THEIR WOUNDS.

BUT WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT SHE MADE THEM FEEL LOVED. SHE WANTED TO GIVE BACK TO THEM THE DIGNITY THAT POVERTY HAD TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM.

SHE SAID THAT EVEN IF THEY DIED THEY DIED WITH A SMILE ON THEIR FACE, KNOWING THAT SOMEBODY LOVES THEM AND SOMEBODY CARES. WHEN SHE LOOKED AT THEM IN THE EYES THEY FELT THAT THEY WERE SOMEBODY.

AS SOON AS A VOLUNTEER COMES, NO MATTER WHO IT IS, WHETHER IT IS A BISHOP, A PUBLIC FIGURE OR A CELEBRITY SHE PUTS THEM TO WORK IN THE HOME OF THE DYING. THEY HAVE NO ILLUSIONS ABOUT THE WORK OF THE MISSIONARY SISTERS: CLEANING BODIES, MOPPING FLOORS, CLEANING TOILETS, WASHING BED SHEETS WITH THE SMELL OF SICKNESS AND DEATH.

IF YOU GO THERE TO FIND THE FACE OF JESUS YOU MUST GET DOWN AND DIRTY, AS SHE DOES, TO MINISTER TO HIM ONE PERSON AT A TIME.

THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH VOCATIONS. ENTHUSIASTIC, VIBRANT YOUNG WOMEN AND MEN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE ATTRACTED TO THE WORK OF THE MISSIONARIES.

IN 1963 MOTHER TERESA FOUNDED THE MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY BROTHERS; AND IN 1984 SHE FOUNDED THE MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY PRIESTS.

THEY KEEP ON COMING TO FIND THE FACE OF JESUS—THE LAY MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY, DOCTORS, NURSES, LAWYERS, ENGINEERS, TV PERSONALITIES AND TEACHERS—MEN AND WOMEN OF DIFFERENT FAITHS AND NATIONALITIES WANT TO HAVE A PART IN THIS BEAUTIFUL WORK FOR GOD.

WHAT ARE THEY SEEKING? MOTHER TERESA SAID: “A LIFE NOT LIVED FOR OTHERS IS NOT A LIFE”. THE PEOPLE WHO COME WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE JOY THAT THESE MISSIONARIES FIND IN PRAYER, IN FAITH, IN SACRIFICE AND IN HUMBLE WORKS OF MERCY. AFTER ALL, THEY SAY, IF THE MISSIONARIES CAN FIND JOY AND PEACE IN THE FACE OF JESUS WHY CAN’T I?

ST. TERESA PRAY FOR US.

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