By Fr. James H. Kroeger, M.M.
Post Credit: CBCPNews
MOTHER Teresa. Saint John Paul II called Mother Teresa of Calcutta “an icon of the service to life which the Church is offering in Asia” (EA 7). We can draw insight and inspiration from her life-witness and poignant words:
“We read in the Gospel that Jesus Christ came into the world to give us the Good News that God is love; that God loves you and loves me; that He wants us to love one another as He loves each of us. And to make us understand this love, He used a beautiful way of explaining: ‘Whatever you do to the poor, you do it to Me. I was hungry and you gave Me to eat. I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was homeless, and you took Me in’.”
“It is something wonderful to think that you and I can return that love, that we too can love God. Where is God? To make it easy for us, He gives us an opportunity to love Him in one another. For He said, ‘Whatever you do to the least, to the man dying, the destitute, the hungry, you do to Me’.”
“Put your love for God into living action, always remembering that it is not what you do, but what you are, and how much love you put into the doing, and have undivided love for God and for each other.”
Brother Bob. Father Bob McCahill, MM, who calls himself “Brother Bob,” has worked several decades in Bangladesh; he describes his experiences: “’What are you doing here?’ That’s a question Bengalis continue to ask me…. I reply: ‘I try to help people who are sick and poor.’ ‘Why do that?’ they ask me. I answer: ‘Because Jesus, my Model, did it.’ My purpose here continues to be simply to live as a Christian among Muslims, showing God’s love, especially to the poorest.”
“Progressively, it has been dawning on me that my efforts have to do with more than helping and healing the sick. I also invite and inspire trust…. It is literally thrilling for me to win the trust of the poor. Now, many of them invite me into their hut-homes, request me to share their food, bring me with them to religious festivals, ask me to bless them when they are sick and when they are well, expect me to name their babies; they pray for me and tell me jokes.”
“They know that I am a Christian and that my faith is not a threat to theirs.” Brother Bob believes he finds acceptance by both rich and poor Muslims in Bangladesh, precisely because he has “gone to the poorest.”
Sister Emelina. Filipina Sister Emelina Villegas, ICM, expresses her motivation for her apostolate with the poor: “I have always been involved with the people, especially the poor, as far back as my days in the elementary grades…. I want to give myself for others—to help them help themselves … then, hopefully, I will be gaining some merits for myself and my loved ones and thus would be deserving of heaven.”
“As a religious missionary within a congregation whose option is for the poor, who are seeking life and freedom, my response is to be with the oppressed and exploited, particularly the workers who are downtrodden in spite of their contribution to the economy of the country.”
“My faith in Jesus Christ has been the driving force in all my involvements. But my different involvements have helped me discover the different faces of Christ. My faith in Christ has brought me right into the heart of the struggle of the people, and while participating therein, the image of Christ is purified….” Undoubtedly, Sister Villegas possesses a profound faith-vision of the unity and inter-connectedness of all the members of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Reflection. Note that all these generous persons who serve the poor call themselves by a very “personal” name: Mother, Brother, Sister. Indeed, a true personal relationship always underlies genuine Christian service of the poor.