So if you’re a Christian, you’re trying to be like Jesus.
If you have a hard time picturing Him and need to look to someone living for a good reference, Mother Theresa was it.
ok, so the big new revelation has been that Mother Theresa had doubts. Big doubts. Crushingly huge tractor trailer-sized doubts. These doubts are chronicled in a new book, Mother Theresa: Come Be My Light by Brian Kolodiejchuck.
David Van Biema broke the story in this Time article, which I found brought up some interesting questions for myself. Namely, What does it say when the generally undisputed best Christian in the world had grave doubts and didn’t feel the presence of Christ in her life for almost 60 years? And what does that say about the millions inspired by her? What does it say about me and my paltry speck of Christian service in comparison to MT’s supertanker load of devotion? I mean she helped dying lepers, for crying out loud. You can’t get more impoverished, forsaken and shunned than that.
She won. Yes, we understand she was still human and still a sinner saved by grace, but really, she was totally a Christian version of a Superfriends character. You could always refer to Mother Theresa fondly, far away, serving the uber-poor, not getting leprosy, living on sand, dying at 300 years old…wait, sorry. But she was something of a Christianity trump card – if SOMEONE on earth had integrity, dignity, true faith, it was her.
Her “calling” was direct enough for her to completely change the direction of her life until she claimed to hear the voice of God pleading with her to serve the poorest of the poor:
“Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic — as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”
The many recorded correspondences of doubt could disparage Mother Theresa, her faith, and Christianity in general, but in the end, Van Biema reveals what Brian Kolodiejchuk is arguing for even more passionately now – that Mother Theresa’s faith was so much stronger, more complex, and more mysterious than we ever thought. This is why he’s pushing hard for her sainthood. He’s trying to confirm her membership in the Justice League. He’s reminding us that we can be superheroes too.
Here’s a summarizing quote form Van Biema:
Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. “The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”
Even though I’m not Catholic, Mother Theresa is my new favorite saint.