Today we commemorate Mother Theresa, who is considered beatified, meaning not quite a saint. She is perhaps the most recognizable Catholic figure in the world of social justice from the past century and has kindled an awareness of the plight of the global poor in the hearts of people far from Mother Theresa’s home in Calcutta.
“Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other–that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister. If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we would still need tanks and generals?” This is one of those quotes that it is easy to read, thinking, Hmmm, that’s true, and move on. But what Mother Theresa is getting at with this quote is really quite stirring, even a bit frightening (the Truth always is). To think that we might have “forgotten” something that is the key to peace as we rush ever forward, headlong into . . . well, what exactly is it that we are rushing into? The idea that “we belong to each other” is completely antithetical to the philosophy of the modern life: you-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine.
Our society constantly tells us, “You belong to your self! You are the most important thing in your life. Your very being is generated by your self. You define yourself,” and so on.
But Blessed Mother Theresa saw the dark side of that philosophy and its effects both on the souls of those who live that lifestyle as well as on the lives of those who spend their days in crushing poverty. Every day, relentlessly, she saw the immediate effects of forgetting that we belong to each other in the form of a poverty that is unfathomable to us as Americans or Westerners.
But there is hope; there is always hope–even Mother Theresa, surrounded by such extreme poverty, saw the hope that we will have peace if we remember that we are our brothers’ keepers, that we are responsible for each other and not just ourselves. We belong to each other as much as we belong to our selves. This is a message that is frightening, thought-provoking and finally, inspiring.
We will regain peace in direct proportion to the degree we regain the understanding that we belong to each other. Today we pray for Blessed Mother Theresa and with her, and hope that soon her own plaque will be among Creator Mundi’s collection of saints.