For every one of us, whether you're Catholic or not, it's a big day as Mother Teresa, one of the world's greatest role models, officially becomes a saint. The Catholic Church grants that status to those who have performed at least two miracles, which Mother Teresa did in healing a man and a woman with cancer. But today's canonization seems to me to state the obvious with a degree of redundancy. With a lifetime of great works and devotion to the world's most destitute people, Mother Teresa was already a saint in their eyes.
Here's why we should all pause in honor of Mother Teresa today: She sets the bar for us.
As I think about this amazing woman's life, I'm struck by her capacity to give of herself and the importance of the example she sets. Teresa came from a poor family and was by no means someone you would identify early on as a person capable of changing the world. But she said Jesus set her heart on fire with a desire to help the world's poorest and most neglected people in Calcutta, India, a mission that led her to become the champion of the most destitute Underdogs around the world.
Her ministry and her care for the word's poorest of the poor spread, giving love and support to people in other parts of India, Venezuela, and most communist countries before this petite, unassuming woman who sought no recognition for her good works won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. By 1997, the year she died, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the order of nuns Teresa had started in Calcutta, grew to nearly 4,000 women in 123 countries. All of them were propelled to help those in the deepest need because one woman had listened to God's mighty calling.
When asked who she was, Mother Teresa replied, "By blood I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world."
The truth is, we all belong to the world and to each other. And that's why we should all pause and reflect on Mother Teresa's example. Today, may the Spirit that led her also guide us. May we hear the calling inside of us and heed it. Serving the poor can mean many things. May we love and care for those in our lives who are neediest, whether in money, in love, in health, or in disposition. And may we begin right now.