“We must live life beautifully.”

Yes, I’ve posted about this before, and you can bet I’ll do it again: this week is the anniversary of the lecture Mother Teresa gave on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Here are some excerpts from Mother Teresa’s remarks. You can find the full text at NobelPrize.org. Take a deep breath and hear her words anew. A fitting meditation for the beginning of a Year of Mercy, come to think of it.

Our hunger [is] for God, because we have been created for [His] love. We have been created in His image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then He has become Man to make it possible to love as He loved us. He makes himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the sick one, the one in prison, the lonely one, the unwanted one – and He says: you did it to Me. This is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find. It may be in our own home.

[I was] visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and had forgotten them, maybe. I saw in that home they had beautiful things, but everyone was looking towards the door. I did not see a single one with a smile. I turned to the Sister and asked, how is it that the people have everything here, why are they looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? She said [that] nearly every day, they are expecting and hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten. See? This is where love comes. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to receive them?

We are talking of peace. The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing. And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: let us make this year that we make every single child, born and unborn, wanted. 

One evening, we went out and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, and she said one thing only – “thank you” – and then she died. I could not help [but ask myself] what I would say in her place. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something. But she gave me much more; she gave me her grateful love. She died with a smile on her face. 

I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. We are touching the Body of Christ 24 hours a day. You, too, try to bring that presence of God into your family; the family that prays together stays together. Just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home, and we will be able to overcome all of the evil that is in the world. Love begins at home. If we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each other. That smile is the beginning of love. Make time for each other in your family.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. I have removed that hunger. But the person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out from society – that poverty is so much; I find it very difficult. 

We must live life beautifully. We have Jesus with us, and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves us, and I have an opportunity to love others as He loves me, not in big things but in small things with great love, then [this place] becomes a nest of love. And how beautiful it will be that from here, a center for peace has been given. That from here, the joy of life of the unborn child comes out. 

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