Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mother Teresa of Calcutta - 'many are called but few are chosen'.

Mother Teresa said “I realized that I had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless - to be God's Love in action to the poorest of the poor.” That was the beginning of the Missionaries of Charity."

She didn't hesitate, she didn't question. She asked permission to leave the Loreto congregation and to establish a new order of sisters. She received that permission from Pope Pius XII. In 1952 Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity began the work for which they have been noted ever since. Her order received permission from Calcutta officials to use a portion of the abandoned temple of Kali, the Hindu goddess of transition and destroyer of demons. Mother Teresa founded here the Kalighat Home for the Dying, which she named Nirmal Hriday (meaning "Pure Heart"). She and her fellow nuns gathered dying people off the streets of Calcutta and brought them to this home to care for them during the days before they died. 

Mother Teresa's first orphanage was started in 1953, while in 1957 she and her Missionaries of Charity began working with lepers. In the years following, her homes (she called them "tabernacles") have been established in hundreds of locations in the world. 

A Movement Begins

Teresa was not alone for long. Within a year, she found more help than she anticipated. Many seemed to have been waiting for her example to open their own floodgates of charity and compassion. Young women came to volunteer their services and later became the core of her Missionaries of Charity. Others offered food, clothing, and the use of buildings, medical supplies and money. As support and assistance mushroomed, more and more services became possible to huge numbers of suffering people.

From their birth in Calcutta, nourished by the faith, compassion and commitment of Mother Teresa, the Missionaries of Charity have grown like the mustard seed of the Scriptures. New vocations continue to come from all parts of the world, serving those in great need wherever they are found. Homes for the dying, refuges for the care and teaching of orphans and abandoned children, treatment centers and hospitals for those suffering from leprosy, centers and refuges for alcoholics, the aged and street people—the list is endless.

Throughout my education from school to graduate college, I studied in a convent and was exposed to Christian missionaries and to their discipline and teachings. I liked the discipline of the nuns and the symbol of Jesus on the cross. But beyond that, I considered Christians belonged to one of the many religions and Christianity was one of them. I always thought that Hinduism was the greatest religion and everything else was secondary. I saw for the first time in my school they screened a movie which showed about Mother Teresa and her work. I was excited and also very sad as I watched the movie. I saw how people were suffering. I saw them in thousands. I was too young to know about poverty. I saw because of poverty they were suffering. I also saw people dying. I saw leprosy victims all around. Blood was oozing from their wounds. They were separated from their homes and Mother Teresa was nursing them along with sisters from the missionaries of charity. It was very pathetic to watch the realities of life.

Oswald Chambers writes:

Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of the archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, ‘I cannot stand anymore.' God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands. 

God has a greater plan. While He does not always show us the details, we can know the big picture—we are in His loving hands.

This was in October I996, and we came to know of Mother Teresa’s deteriorating health. I was very familiar with Mother Teresa since I first saw her in a documentary in 1974 in Calcutta. I was in my 6th Grade in St.Lawrence High School when we moved from Madras to Calcutta. That was the first time in my life that I stole money from my Late Father’s Pockets because we were given very little allowance as pocket money. I wanted to help the Missionaries of Charity. I wanted to give the highest money offering to them. We were given Collection cards from everyone and I filled every card that I had and gave all the money. I told my Dad everything and received scoldings and also spankings for having stolen money to give it to a charitable institution. Ever since that day Mother Teresa had a very special place in my heart.

The year was rapidly ending and now she was very ill. I strongly felt we need to do something for her. We decided to help. We Started with Prayer teams and spread the news of the health. We gathered about 80,000 prayer cards from schools and colleges and everyone that we came across. We decided we will go to Calcutta. We flew to Calcutta with all the cards, donations of medicines, get well prayer cards, Scriptures etc. We reached Calcutta and visited her. Admission to the hospital was very restricted, she was on medication. We prayed and came to her house which was in the Missionaries of Charity. We prayed and left all the collections and things in her tiny room with one cot and chair. Many things we can learn from her. She dedicated her life for Jesus. She came to serve the millions of poor and destitute people many of whom are leprosy victims. She realized that she had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless - to be God's Love in action to the poorest of the poor.

The source of true patience is the Spirit of God. His patience toward us allows us the opportunity to grow and to become more like Him. He does not give up on us. When we are stubborn and fail to learn what God wants to teach us, He continues to demonstrate His patience. Mother Teresa was a young girl Gonxha (Agnes) from Skopje, Yugoslavia thousands of miles away from her home receiving her calling to serve the poor in Calcutta. Thinking about the Mother and how precious her life was to the millions of people of Calcutta. We went to the hospital to pray before we left. We prayed. We then returned to Hyderabad.

To my mind, the important takeaway I got from my initial years is that positioning for success begins when you align your gifts, skills and passion with your job description. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. There were times when I had to abort a take-off. There were other times when I had to change course mid-flight. There were moments when I had to bring all my navigational and piloting skills to control the flight. But, at the end, all my efforts paid off and today, I am blessed with success and career satisfaction. One of my friends Job Stanley ( in the picture with a small aircraft) was employed with Air India at Hyderabad Airport and was very helpful during our Calcutta trip. Beulah is his wife who was my Executive Assistant at work. She was highly commendable, excellent at work, imaginative, very compassionate and helpful. I was then a Divisional Manager and Profit Center Head. Both Stanley and Beulah helped us with transshipping huge packets of medicines, gifts and greeting cards for Mother Teresa. They are believers and a wonderful couple. Indian Airlines did not charge any money for the extra luggage. We were thankful to them. I also like to remember the efforts of all our Sales and Customer Executives, Assistant Managers, Deputy Managers and Area Managers, Branch Managers, Divisional Managers, and all others especially in Andhra Pradesh who have been very helpful. They are great and wonderful people. I also remember Amit Bayani a good friend and Manager from Motorola who have been instrumental in delivering free (Page Point) messages to Mother Teresa in Calcutta. I also would like to thank K. Rajashekhar a good old friend and an Editor in the Indian Express who actually accompanied me to Calcutta.

It was in January of 1997 when we received a letter. It was written by Mother Teresa herself. She thanked everyone who prayed for her, and the way she was healed by Jesus. It was a miracle. She was given the Master’s touch. She said that we should always serve like how Jesus did. What a powerful testimony. On September 5th  she went to be with the Lord. I was in Latin America and saw the news when she left for her heavenly abode.

Until her death in 1997, Mother Teresa continued her work among the poorest of the poor, depending on God for all of her needs. Honors too numerous to mention had come her way throughout the years, as the world stood astounded by her care for those usually deemed of little value. In her own eyes she was "God's pencil—a tiny bit of pencil with which He writes what He likes."

Despite years of strenuous physical, emotional and spiritual work, Mother Teresa seemed unstoppable. Though frail and bent, with numerous ailments, she always returned to her work, to those who received her compassionate care for more than 50 years. Only months before her death, when she became too weak to manage the administrative work, she relinquished the position of head of her Missionaries of Charity. She knew the work would go on.


If we live, we live to the Lord: and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:8 (New International Version)
One of the incredible realizations we can have as Christians is that our relationship with the Lord can be eternal. As long as we seek after Him, He is always there and no one can separate us from His love. Even when we die, we go to be with the Lord. When we sleep in death, we are still "in the Lord." Everything we have on earth is temporary except our love for  Lord Jesus and those with whom we share that love!

What matters most to your identity is not how the world sees you, how your friends see you, or even how you see yourself. What matters most is how God sees you. Spend time in God's Word learning about His everlasting love for you. Form your identity in Christ. Understand who you are from God's viewpoint because if you are not sure of your identity or if your identity is not firmly rooted in God, then you will be easily swayed and discouraged by what other people say about you.

Finally, on September 5, 1997, after finishing her dinner and prayers, her weakened heart gave her back to the God who was the very center of her life. 

Beginning with just five nuns and spreading to over 5000, Mother Teresa's journey was one of kindness and great influence. For Mother Teresa, to love one’s neighbor was to love God. This was what was essential to her, not the size of her mission or the power others perceived in her. “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful,” she explained. Mother Teresa exemplified that faith — in prayer, in love, in service, and in peace.

The day of her baptism was actually more important to Mother Teresa than her birthday. Although she may not have celebrated her 100th birthday herself, August 26 was marked by her order in Rome, and many other places, "to give honor and glory to God."
Remembering Mother Teresa on her birthday on the 27 th of August. May she be eternal and be with Lord Jesus Christ in glory forever. Amen.


Raj Kosaraju

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