Mother Teresa and the Pursuit of Holiness
Written by Ricky Jones
A person like Mother Teresa sets an awe-inspiring example of what holiness is in our modern world. To care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to help the poor, and to comfort those who are suffering are all actions to which we are called. It’s not to say that we must all become nuns or monks, but we most certainly must make a serious effort to live out the Gospel, to bring to life the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It might not be popular amongst our peers and our society might tell us otherwise, but deep inside of each one of us there lies a yearning for good and a longing for God.
This yearning is not simply human nature, in fact we would do good to call it “divine nature,” after all we have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator (Genesis 1:26-27). We are special in this sense, to be modeled after the modeler. He wants us to be like Him. He sets the supreme example and he calls us to follow it.
“For I, the LORD, am your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:44a
Indeed, he sends forth many others to set the example for us and we find these exemplary figures in Scripture and in rare cases we see them in action. These are “the saints who have done [God’s] will throughout the ages,” people who have lived out the Gospel. In essence they have become the Gospel, the Good News to the world.
“Chris tells us to aim very high, not to be like Abraham or David or any of the saints, but to be like our heavenly Father.” ~ St. Teresa of Calcutta
Talk about raising the bar, is it even possible to be like God? Well I’m sure He wants us to at least try. Of course we will fail, we’re human. Personally, I strive to be like God, and although I don’t ever even come close to meeting the mark, I find that each time I try I take a baby step forward. It’s a tiny fraction of the journey for me, but it may have effected someone else’s life in a major way.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
We all have a story, some more fantastic than others, but our story of the way God has worked in our lives is a powerful tool of evangelization. People relate to people and often times it’s easier for us to relate to someone we know than it is to relate to a story in a 2000 year-old book. Just like the powerful example of Mother Teresa is one that we can all applaud, she herself was only following the example of Jesus Christ.
Even more powerful than our testimony is our living witness to the Gospel. We all know and can attest to the fact that actions speak louder than words. If I were to tell you that God has made me a better person you might agree, but if I were to show that God has made me a better person you would know for a fact. Jesus didn’t just walk around preaching and telling stories, he practiced what he preached. He lived out his teachings live and in living-color. So how can we be an example to others?
“We shall instruct by the power of the example of our lives lived entirely in and with Jesus Christ our Lord, bearing witness to the truth of the gospel by our single-minded devotion to and burning love of Christ and His Church, and also by verbal proclamation of the Word of God fearlessly, openly, and clearly, according to the teaching of the Church, whenever opportunity offers.” ~ St. Teresa of Calcutta
Jesus helped those in need: the sick, the suffering, the outcasts, the poor, and many more. He wasn’t afraid to step outside of His comfort zone in order to do the will of the Father. What is the will of the Father, you might ask?
“It is God’s will that you grow in holiness.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3
The key word for me here is “grow.” Obviously, we can’t expect to go from being a sinner to a saint in the blink of an eye. Our journey through life in faith is just that, a journey. There is much to learn along the way and we learn most from our sufferings and our failures. As long as we remain open to God and allow Him to lead us, then take the lead He will.
“If you’re a saint, thank God; if you are a sinner, don’t remain one.” ~ St. Teresa of Calcutta
You and I know what it takes to be a saint, to be holy. So what is it that’s stopping us from achieving holiness? Sin. Don’t let sin stop you from becoming a saint. The Gospel is meant to be lived and when we as Christians live our faith to the fullest we become what we are called to be. That is exactly what Mother Teresa did. She lived out the Gospel and how powerful is it to see the Gospel brought to life! So pray that together we may walk in God’s grace, mercy, and love as we live in accordance with His will in our life-long pursuit of holiness. St. Teresa of Calcutta pray for us!
All of the quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta are taken from her book “No Greater Love.” Read my review of the book here.