“Return to your home” — Luke 8:39


Fr. Deogratias Ekisa, professor and Vice Rector at our Seminary, shared this story in his homily the other day, and he kindly shared it with me so I could share it here with you. Here’s a snippet of his homily:

A story is told of a young lady, an artist and actress who lived in New York City.  She was obsessed with Mother Teresa and what Mother did and wanted to work with her.  Sometime in the early 80’s, she found out that Mother Teresa was coming to New York to speak at the United Nations.  She searched high and low and found out where Mother was staying and went there to wait for her.

And as she is at the gate, Mother’s taxi pulls up and all these little nuns come out and then finally Mother Teresa comes out herself.  This young lady runs up to Mother and says: “I am so glad to meet you; all the work you do is so wonderful.”  Mother Teresa, used to all this kind of attention, is so nice and takes her hand and listens to her.  The girl went on: “The work you do is so wonderful that I want to come to Calcutta and do that work with you.”

But Mother Teresa shook her head and said, “No. You don’t do this work because you think it is wonderful. You do this work because you so love the poor people of Calcutta that you cannot be away from them; that is when you come.”  The young lady was a little disappointed, but she got the point.

Then Mother Teresa asked her: “But what do you do?”  To which the young lady replied, “Well what I do is not important.  I work in a theater and help to put on plays.  What use is that?”

To which Mother Teresa said: “There are so many different kinds of famine in this world.  In my country of India, there is a famine of the body, in this country of America, there is a famine of the spirit.  Stay here and feed your people.”

If Jesus’ own way of dealing with his agony will not give us comfort, if Jesus’ promise of eternal life will not console us, then let knowing that our sacrifices help the poor, especially those who are spiritually poor, soften whatever pain and sadness we might experience, as we attempt to be perfect and to follow the Lord more closely.

St. John Paul II captured well the ordinary world Mother sent this woman back into:

The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men, busy at work in their daily life and activity, oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world’s great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father, untiring labourers who work in the Lord’s vineyard. Confident and steadfast through the power of God’s grace, these are the humble yet great builders of the Kingdom of God in history … Our society urgently needs the everyday witness of Christians who take the social demands of our faith seriously. Living our faith in the ordinary tasks of everyday life is an essential part of what it means to be holy.

We need witnesses to ordinary greatness, like these men:

4 comments on ““Return to your home” — Luke 8:39

  1. Jennifer says:

    This really causes my heart to ache. I love that Mother’s words went so much deeper than the cliché “bloom where you’re planted”. Mother’s words sounds like the words of someone who understands the pain of not feeling like you’re in the right place, wondering why it’s so hard to belong, yet, she doesn’t dismiss the young woman’s desire to live a different life as escapism yet points her to a higher calling of courageously remaining in this hostile ordinary place (which can suffocate you in pain) and transform it with Christ’s life and his love. (Like the man from Luke 8 who has become one of my favourite saints). I love this sanctification of the ordinary, this lifting up! The sacramentality of it. He is calling us to truly let Him live through us in all the ho-hum ordinariness of every encounter. Our willingness to do our regular duties is our assenting to Him entering in, co-labouring with us, loving through us and loving us through. The wonder!

    • DismasDancing says:

      St Therese’, the “Little Flower of Jesus,” did not become a great saint by doing “great” things in a visible way. She accomplished “little” things in quiet ways with great love for Jesus. Mother Teresa was the modern day personification of the efficacy of that little way.

      From personal experience, I offer the following anecdotal story:

      Princess Diana, the once and future Queen of England, died in a tragic car wreck on August 31. 1997. I needn’t remind anyone of the rampant near-“idolatry” of a woman who raised as many questions about life as a married royal as she ever answered. My beloved daughter-in-law is a proud subject of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. My son and she have made their home in London since their marriage 22 years ago. Through that connection, my bride and I were kept abreast of news on both sides of the big pond. So the “stuff” surrounding Diana’s life was worthy of at least passing interest from us. Because of the time difference, news of Diana’s death was actually broadcast in the US before most British subjects would have heard. I knew that my DIL would not have heard the news and would be devastated should she hear it blasted at her out of the blue on BBC as she awakened in her home. So I called and quietly informed her of the tragedy. Her reaction was predictable. I was glad I called. As was she.

      Amid the madness of the incredible hoopla surrounding Diana’s death, Blessed Mother Teresa died quietly in India five days later—September 5, 1997. I found it amazingly ironic that the passing of this future saint of Almighty God received only the tiniest bit of time in either print or broadcast media. The most stunning difference was, perhaps, the manner in which each was laid to eternal rest and the media coverage each received. I make these comparisons at the risk of calling for God’s judgment on either of them—certainly not my intent herein. But as is the case in the most recent passing of another notable Catholic Christian female, Mother Mary Angelica, founder of EWTN and religious orders, the “world” into which we Christians have been given temporary life couldn’t care less about the “good” women (and men) surrounding us. Sadly, albeit realistically, those both in and “of” the world seem to draw the most interest, the most coverage, earning sponsors the most money. Mother Teresa was a perfect example of one who was most certainly “in” the world, but absolutely not “of” it. The lives of the three notable women noted put life on earth and the purposes therefor into perspective, at least for many of us. Please see one example of a bio for Mother Teresa: http://www.biography.com/people/mother-teresa-9504160#synopsis.

      In the wake of the historic activities involving Diana and Mother Teresa, I wrote an essay at the time documenting my wonder at the immensely contrasting contributions to humanity by “good” people, and how the actions of “good” people rarely get the attention you share in the beautiful video in your post. It remains valid today. That said, genuinely Christian folks couldn’t care less; but “The Enemy” surely uses it to tickle us proud folks.

      The video and Pope Saint John Paul II’s words lend great credence to the final words in your comment:

      “We need witnesses to ordinary greatness, like these men.” May each of us in our own way quietly reflect the “little” ways of Saint Therese’, Blessed Mother Teresa, Mother Angelica, and those of the men in the video in ways that truly and always honor Christ, Our Lord. May their lives encourage us all to reflect on the joy to be found in the words of Jesus, “As long as you do it unto the least of my brethren, you do it unto ME!”

      Jen. Love your comment!!!


    • These comments are so rich, and thought out from an insider’s POV. And you are so right — the liberated Gerasene demoniac is really the paradigmatic saint for the vast majority of lay faithful to whom Jesus says: “Return to your home and…”
      “He is calling us to truly let Him live through us in all the ho-hum ordinariness of every encounter.” — LOVE IT
      Thanks for leaving your thoughts for all of us.

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