Skip to main content

Remembering Mother Teresa: Need for compassion to overcome divisiveness, racism, communalism and xenophobia

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Mother Teresa was the epitome of compassion. If ever one would dare to give a core competency to her, it is this single characteristic of being a compassionate person. She radiated this quality, when on earth, in a way, few humans could ever do; her love for the marginalized and the vulnerable and particularly for the poorest of the poor and the dying destitute was boundless. She was able to give and not to count the cost. Her ability to be compassionate towards others motivated her to found the Missionaries of Charity. She was effusive in her compassion for the “least of our sisters and brothers” and did not try to hide this fact.

In a fitting tribute to Mother Teresa the United Nations in 2013, declared every September 5th (her death anniversary) as the ‘International Day of Charity’ inviting “all Member States and all international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to commemorate the Day in an appropriate manner, by encouraging charity, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.”
The world desperately stands in need of compassion today! A compassion, which reaches out to the unloved, the ostracized, the marginalized and the vulnerable. A compassion, that takes a stand for the poor, the victims of injustice, the refugees and the displaced. A compassion, that is able to negate and overcome the hate and divisiveness; the racism and communalism; the xenophobia and the exclusiveness that has gripped our world as never before. We need the compassion of Mother Teresa as never before.
On September 4th 2016, in a very special ceremony at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa as a Saint of the Catholic Church. In his homily he reminded the world of the need and importance to live the values which St Teresa of Kolkata embodied:
May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, 'Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile'. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness”.
Mother Teresa died twenty years ago on September 5th 1997. Strangely and symbolically, September 5th is also observed as ‘Teachers Day’ in India in memory of our visionary late President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who besides being a great educationist and philosopher, also believed that education is the key to India’s inclusive development.
Mother Teresa was also a teacher, having taught in a Bengali Medium Girls School for several years before she founded the Missionaries of Charity. During her lifetime, she taught the world several important and valuable lessons. Compassion however, was her hallmark! We need to do our best to imbibe these values in whatever way we can. She would say, “In this life we cannot do great things; we can only do small things with great love!”
As we celebrate on September 5th, God’s great gift to mankind in the person of Mother Teresa, let us also pray to her, this great ‘Saint of the gutters’ to give us a compassionate heart, the courage to reach out in love unconditionally and the commitment to give and not to count the cost!
St Teresa of Kolkata pray for us!
---
*Human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.