In Luke 10: 21-28 a scholar of the law asks Jesus a question. He says, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus asks him in return, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” And the man replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus says, “You have answered rightly, do this and you will live.”
For many years she didn’t feel God’s presence, but continued to do the work that He had called her to do.
Jesus takes what we tend to think of as two separate things, love of God, on the one hand, and love of neighbor, on the other, and puts them together. You cannot love God without loving your neighbor, and you cannot love your neighbor without loving God.
When many people think of a modern day saint who embodied the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself, they tend to think of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa was an Albanian school teacher who felt called by God to serve the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, India, and to live among them. She founded a religious order called the Missionaries of Charity, and that’s exactly what they did. Everyday for over forty years Mother Teresa ministered to the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and the dying on the streets and in the slums of India.
Many admired Mother Teresa and her fellow Missionaries of Charity for living among the poor and doing the corporeal works of mercy (clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, comforting the dying, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead). In the 1970s her work became so well-known around the globe that she was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2007, Come Be My Light, a book containing Mother Teresa’s private letters to her spiritual advisors, caused many people to give this smiling saint a second look. It was revealed in Teresa’s private correspondences that she had often struggled with her faith. Here was Mother Teresa in all her pain and humanity. In Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, the reader discovers that Teresa wrestled with God and often had trouble feeling His presence at all. For many years, in fact, she experienced a dark night of the soul and felt she had been abandoned, and yet, through it all, she continued to do the work that she knew she had been called to do.
Readers will be moved by Mother Teresa’s perseverance in loving her neighbor, and in the process loving God, despite dark times and serious doubts.
This book is great consolation for all those who struggle to believe. Like Mother Teresa, most of us experience doubts and dark nights, but we can follow her example, and preserve in prayer, and in the work of loving our neighbor (and in the process loving God), even when we are in the midst of a great spiritual drought.
– Anna Keating