My Greatest Guru
Every year on September 5th, we felicitate teachers with great pomp and reverence. This year on this special day, I would like to remember one of the greatest teachers the world has ever known- Blessed Mother Teresa. No chalk-n-talk teacher this; just a hands-on practical ‘We do it for Jesus” type.
Mother Teresa stands tall as one of the best examples of a woman of great courage and compassion in a world riddled with the scars of war, corruption and eroding human values. Her stance for life in a world that is dying slowly is commendable and to be imitated by all who wish to uphold the dignity of every living creature on the face of this earth.
I quote here an extract from her appeal to President Clinton which she made at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5th, 1994: The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts--a child--as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the dependent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners."
This then was Mother Teresa’s mission – to give sanctity to life from the womb to the tomb. That is why she strove relentlessly to fight against abortion and euthanasia.
Although a Roman Catholic by faith, she is quoted as saying, “Enough converting! Let's help a Buddhist become a better Buddhist, a Jew become a better Jew, a Christian become a better Christian.” She just wanted everyone to receive the powerful, all- transforming love of God and to be recreated by that immense love.
Mother Teresa came to give light to the world, to educate people and awaken their consciences.
There is a story told that when she visited an aborigine’s home in Australia once, she came upon an elderly man who lived in the worst of conditions. Mother said to him, “Please let me clean your house and make up your bed.” “I am fine like this” he replied. Mother Teresa said, “You will be better off with a clean house.” Finally he agreed. When she entered his house, which bore little remembrance to a home, she noticed a lamp. It was a beautiful lamp, but it was covered with filth and dust. She asked him, “Do you ever light that lamp?” He asked, “For whom? No one ever comes to my house. I spend days without ever seeing a human face. I have no need to light the lamp.” Then Mother asked him if he would be willing to light the lamp if the sisters came to see him regularly. He answered, “Of course!” The sisters made it their habit to visit him every evening. The old man began to light the lamp for them and to keep it clean. He began to keep his house clean, too. Once he gave the sisters a message for Mother Teresa: “Tell my friend that the light that she lit in my life is still shining.”
Not given to much talking, Mother Teresa spoke only when necessary. Therefore, her words were convincing when she did speak, each thought as precious as a priceless pearl. She said once on prayer: “I believe that politicians spend too little time on their knees. I am convinced that they would be better politicians if they were to do so.”
Another time she narrated a story: “One night, a man came to our house saying that a Hindu family had not eaten anything for days. The family had eight children who had nothing to eat. I took enough rice for a meal and went to that house. The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out. When I asked her where she had gone, she replied that her neighbors, who were Muslims and had the same number of children to feed, had not had any food either. In order not to take away her happiness, I did not take her anymore rice that night. I took her some more the following day.”
Mother Teresa’s deeds were indeed simple, her thoughts and words left one speechless and, in her death, she has revealed to us that no one really dies in spirit. It seems no coincidence to me that this ‘heroic example of truth in a corrupt world’ died on this same very day as a reminder to teachers everywhere to follow in her footsteps and ‘serve the poorest of the poor’ in their classrooms. One can have no better educator than her and none better to emulate. (This is the unedited version)