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Mother Teresa – Compassion in Action

“The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.”

– Mother Teresa


Mother Teresa – who was born Agnes Boyaxhui in modern-day Macedonia – spent most of her life in India, working with the poor, sick and destitute. The order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, has since opened more than 500 centers around the world. Mother Teresa’s work has been acknowledged as the paradigm of compassionate service to underprivileged and disenfranchised people failed by existing social structures. This essay by Mother Teresa crystallizes her vision of compassion in action, of how the fundamental love and benevolence between humans can override all social, racial and doctrinal divides.


 

To me, God and compassion are one and the same. Compassion is the joy of sharing. It’s doing small things for the love of each other-just a smile, or carrying a bucket of water, or showing some simple kindness. These are the small things that make up compassion.

Compassion means trying to share and understand the suffering of people. And I think it’s very good when people suffer. To me, that’s really like a kiss from Jesus. And a sign, also, that this person has come so close to Jesus, sharing his passion.

It is only pride and selfishness and coldness that keep us from having compassion. When we ultimately go home to God, we are going to be judged on what we were to each other, what we did for each other, and, especially, how much love we put in that. It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put in the doing ~ that’s compassion in action.

One’s religion has nothing to do with compassion. It’s our love for God that is the main thing. Many Christians and non-Christians come to help in our houses in Calcutta and throughout the world. We have volunteers of all religions working with our aides day and night. Religion is meant to help us get closer to God, not meant to separate us…. true religion, no? All God really wants is for us to love him. The way we can show our love for Him is to serve others.

We need a life of deep prayer to be able to give until it hurts. It seems the more we have, the less we give. And the less we have, the more we can give.

You may ask how the contemplative life fits together with compassion in action. It fits together by bringing union with God. Jesus said, “ Whether you do it the last of my brethren, you are doing it to me.” If you do everything for him, you are acting as contemplative in the heart of the world.

There is contemplative life where people separate themselves completely from the world and live a life of prayer, of sacrifice. We are out in the world doing that- being contemplatives in the heart of the world.

We need a life of deep prayer to be able to give until it hurts. It seems the more we have, the less we give. And the less we have, the more we can give.

The need is great for food, clothes, medicine, and tender-love-and-care. This is the greatest need. We have homes for the dying, for lepers, for children, for the poorest of the poor. And now, in the United States, we have homes for people with AIDS, also.

My message to the people of today is simple. We must love one another as God loves each one of us. To be able to love, we need a clean heart. Prayer is what gives us a clean heart. The fruit of prayer is a deepening of faith and the fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.

Religion has nothing to do with compassion; it is our love for God that is the main thing because we have all been created for the soul purpose to love and to be loved.

 

Mother Teresa

From: Handbook for the Spirit

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