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

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.