Mother Teresa - Part 3
“The dying, the crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved — they are Jesus in disguise - Mother Teresa introduction. … through the poor people I have an opportunity to be 24 hours a day with Jesus.”
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“Every AIDS victim is Jesus in a pitiful disguise; Jesus is in everyone…
– Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is a symbol of charity and saintliness. Admired all over the world for her works for the poor and abandoned. Her life is story full of lessons on how to live a meaningful life while helping others. She lived to serve God in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God
This paper scrutinizes Mother Teresa’s contributions to the peace movement and their relation and similarities to the contributions of Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Jesus.
II – Mother Teresa
Agnes Bojaxhiu was born of Albanian parents in Skopje, in what is now Yugoslavia. At the age of twelve she had felt the call to help the poor, and a few years later decided to work in India. At 18, she joined the Sisters of Loretto, Roman Catholic community of Irish nuns in Calcutta, and became a teacher.
In 1948, she founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, dedicating herself and the order to work among the “poorest of the poor.” She later opened schools, hospitals, youth centers, and orphanages throughout India and in other countries (Cohen, 2001). On October 7, 1950 Mother Teresa received Vatican permission to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” It began as a small order with 13 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices, and charity centers worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine
Mother Teresa received a multitude of peace awards in recognition for her works which promoted world peace. In 1971, Paul VI awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize which recognized and commended her for her work with the poor, display of Christian charity and efforts for peace. Other awards bestowed upon her included a Kennedy Prize in 1971, the Balzan prize (1979) for humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples, the Albert Schweitzer International Prize (1975), the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom (1985) and Congressional Gold Medal (1994), honorary citizenship of the United States (November 16, 1996), and honorary degrees from a number of universities. In 1972, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding. Later, in 1980, she received India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, and the British Order of Merit in 1983.In 1976, she was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. Pacem in Terris is Latin for ‘Peace on Earth.’
And in 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her more than 30 years of work among the poor and the sick in the slums of Calcutta, India (Cohen, 2001).
In her Nobel Lecture, Mother Teresa asked the people to “ …thank God for this gift of peace that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor.” She stressed that “ He being God became man in all things like us except sin, and he proclaimed very clearly that he had come to give the good news. The news was peace to all of good will and this is something that we all want – the peace of heart – and God loved the world so much that he gave his son – it was a giving – it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?” (Nobel Lectures, 1997)
Mother Theresa’s work is rooted in the Christian faith. She sees Christ in every human being, which makes man sacred in her eyes. The hallmark of her work has been respect for the individual and the individual’s worth and dignity. The loneliest and the most wretched, the dying destitute, the abandoned lepers, have been received by her and her Sisters with warm compassion devoid of condescension, based on this reverence for Christ in Man.
III – Gandhi,King,and Jesus
a) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a leader of the movement that won India independence from Great Britain. Millions of supporters called him “Mahatma” (Great Soul). Gandhi was unique among leaders of revolution because he never struck a blow—yet his campaign of passive resistance (Satyagraha) and his fasting forced the British Empire to free the people of India. Gandhi’s method of nonviolent civil disobedience was adopted by some United States civil rights leaders, notably Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi was born at Porbandar in northwest India. His father was prime minister of the tiny state of Porbandor. When Gandhi was 7 years old he was betrothed; at 13, he was married. At 19 he went to London and studied law at the University College. In 1891, he was admitted to practice as a lawyer and returned to India. Gandhi sailed to South African Supreme Court (Pandiri, 2005).
Indians in South Africa, especially those imported as indentured laborers, were treated as inferiors. Gandhi soon turned from his successful law practice to working for social reform. It became his life work. He believed that all men should have equal economic and social rights. After studying Tolstoy, Ruskin, and Thoreau, he adopted their philosophy of nonviolence to gain social reforms. He was also influenced by the teachings of Jesus and by traditional Indian religious thought; Gandhi himself was a Hindu.
Gandhi’s work for the unprivileged was interrupted by the Boer War (1899-1902) and the Zulu revolt (1906). In both conflicts, he raised an ambulance corps for Britain, and was decorated for his service. Gandhi’s work to gain Indian rights in South Africa brought some success in 1914 when several restrictions were lifted (Pandiri, 2005).
b) Martin Luther King Jr.
Matin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a clergyman. Hr graduated from Morehouse College, in Atlanta, in 1948, and received a Ph.D. in theology from Boston University in 1955. After being ordained a Baptist minister in 1947, King was named assistant pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. In 1960, he became co-pastor of his father’s church, a post he held until his death. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers. James Earl Ray was convicted of his murder (Pyatt, 2004).
King was a United States clergyman and civil rights leader. King became the nation’s most prominent spokesman for equal justice for black Americans. He was a charismatic leader and an eloquent speaker, who preached nonviolent resistance to unjust laws and practices, a tactic he adopted from Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi. His civil rights efforts helped bring about passage of the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1983, the U.S. Congress voted to make his birthday, January 15, a national holiday (celebrated on the third Monday of the month) (Pyatt, 2004).
King began his involvement in the modern civil rights movement in 1955 with leadership of the Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott, which ended segregated seating on that city’s public buses. He then urged black Americans to follow the Montgomery example and win their rights through nonviolent protest. As a head of the Southern Leadership Conference, which he helped to found in 1957, King led demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, and boycotts in many cities in both the south and the north for his activities. In 1967, he also became a leader of the peace movement, seeking an end to the Vietnamese War (Pyatt, 2004).
In his Nobel Lecture, King said “…in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”
c) Jesus Christ
The early followers of Jesus Christ believe that he himself is the Son of God. It was already foretold in the Old Testament that there will be a Son of God that would be born in a stable. Every time he opened his mouth and spoke to the people, it was full of wisdom. He performed miracles after miracles that only a divine person can perform . Yes, some of his early followers were just curious of what would Jesus perform on that day; but most of his followers especially his disciples strongly believed that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah that they were waiting for a long time. The faith of the followers of Jesus was strengthened when Jesus Christ himself rose form the dead, fellowship with his disciples for a quite time and ascended to heaven commissioning his people to preach the gospel and make disciples.
Moreover, when Jesus was about 30 years old; he was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, in the River Jordan. This was the start of a new life for Jesus. For the next three years, he traveled from place to place, teaching people about God. He spoke of God as a loving father and told them that, if they truly were sorry for their sins, they would reach God’s kingdom in heaven (France, 2002). His powerful message about God’s love drew large crowds. Jesus chose 12 men as his special disciples to carry out his work.
In his teaching, Jesus used many stories, called parables, to get difficult messages across. The parable of the lost sheep, for example was used for people to understand that, like the shepherd, God loves and cares for everyone, especially people who are unhappy or lost (Macquarrie, 2000).
Many ordinary people traveled to hear Jesus but Palestine’s religious leaders felt threatened by his growing popularity. He was crucified , buried and was believed to have resurrected from death. For Christians, the Resurrection of Jesus is a central part of their beliefs. They believe that Jesus died to make the world a better place and to give people hope for a future with God. The sins of all people were forgiven with Jesus’ death (Cornfiled, 2000).
Furthermore, the teachings of Jesus Christ were promulgated to the four corners of the world. Those who believe on Jesus Christ are called Christians. They follow the teachings of the preacher and healer that is Jesus Christ. After Jesus’ death, his followers spread his teachings far and wide. Today, Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with some 2 billion followers, living all over the world.
Mother Teresa and the three men that are discussed in the paper really rendered their lives for the benefit of many. These are the great leaders who took the risks in order to receive on what is due to every individual and to deliver the truth to everyone. As I observed, these noble people discussed in this paper are influenced by each other. They may live in different year and time yet the teachings and beliefs of any of these noble people are passed on. Just like Gandhi, he is influenced by the teachings of Jesus when in fact he is a Hindu while Martin Luther King, Jr. is influenced by the tactics of Gandhi. Moreover, Mother Teresa is indeed influenced too with the works and teachings of Jesus because it reflects on her ministry while she is still alive.
Mother Theresa stands in a long line of living lights among whom are Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King used Gandhi’s way to win their freedom, Gandhi’s way was the way of Jesus Christ which was also the way of Mother Teresa.Jesus Christ told his people to “turn the other cheek” if someone struck them.This idea of fighting peacefully against evil was called nonviolence. This philosophy of non-violence in the promotion of peace was the common bond that connects the four great leaders and peace advocates. Through their non-violent efforts, peace was promoted in the world.
Their lives are marked by altruism making them universally admired their love and service to others, at considerable cost to themselves, are routinely held up as models of what humans can and should be.
Bull, Norman. The Story of Jesus (Abingdon Press, 1999).
Cohen, J. M. The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself. Penguin Books. London, 2001.
Cornfiled, Gaalyah. The Historical Jesus: A Scholarly View of the man and His World (Macmillan, 2000).
Dodd, C. H. The Founder of Christianity. London: Collins; Fount, 2000. Standard biographical study for general reader.
Farrar, Frederic W. The Life of Christ. Hodder and Stoughton, 1999. Re-issue of substantial standard work by 19th-century theologian, emphasizing the divinity of Christ.
France, R. T. The Evidence for Jesus. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. Survey of the historical evidence.
Haberman, Frederick W., Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 1972.
Macquarrie, John. Jesus Christ in Modern Thought. SCM, 2000. Major scholarly assessment.
Pandiri, A. M. A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography on Mahatma Gandhi. Volume: 1. Greenwood Press. Westport, CT. 2005.
Pyatt, S.E. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Annotated Bibliography. Greenwood Press. Pp. 234-256. New York. 2004.
Frängsmyr, Tore. Nobel Lectures, Peace 1971-1980, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore. 1997.