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: