Sep 5 – Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She was born in Skopje (now the capital of North Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. After living in Skopje for eighteen years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.
In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. It also runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counselling programmes, as well as orphanages and schools. Members take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and also profess a fourth vow – to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”
Teresa received a number of honors, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She was canonised on 4 September 2016, and the anniversary of her death (5 September) is her feast day. A controversial figure during her life and after her death, Teresa was admired by many for her charitable work. She was praised and criticized on various counts, such as for her views on abortion and contraception, and was criticized for poor conditions in her houses for the dying. Her authorized biography was written by Navin Chawla and published in 1992, and she has been the subject of films and other books. On 6 September 2017, Teresa and St. Francis Xavier were named co-patrons of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.
1 Cor 5:1-8
“I put it to you: is it against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?”
Have you ever had the experience of posting something on social media, only to find people ferociously jumping to point out where your premise is wrong, or where you’ve misunderstood the facts, or drawn the wrong conclusion, or are just plain stupid? Or voiced an opinion and been loudly shouted down because someone didn’t agree with your politics? We’ve become so quick to point out another’s faults. People will crawl out of the woodwork quicker than termite lice if it means they get to show off how correct, how virtuous, how clever they are. What is it about other people’s opinions that bring out the worst of our sanctimonious virtue signalling? Why is it so important to puff out our chests and lather ourselves up to a froth of self-righteous anger?
We have done awful things to each other in the name of ‘virtue’. Up and down the ages, we’ve elected judges for ourselves, or declared ourselves judges as such, and done terrible things to each other. In our generation, this pattern of behaviour continues with ‘cancel culture’. Whatever happened to tolerance? To forgiveness? To respect? To humour?
I’ve taken myself off social media. I’ve also taken myself off all the local neighbourhood apps and muted my Instagram. I’ve called a timeout, a ‘fast’ from social media, if you want to use the vernacular of Scripture. Why? Because I don’t think what we’re doing now is how we are meant to interact with one another. All this acrimony, this shouting, this toxic tribalism. I don’t think this is what God meant for us. I know it sounds like I’m giving up. I prefer to think of it as a reset. I’d like to meet people again, as people. To have conversations in real life. I’d like to have meaningful encounters again — to listen, really listen, with no judgment or anger. To not just show empathy, but solidarity, even when I don’t agree with their point of view. Because we’re all just people trying our best to live meaningful lives.
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” Would we be more impactful if we were to empathize with someone, rather than criticize them? Would we build better relationships, if we offered compassion instead of judgment? Said “I feel you” instead of “I told you so”? I don’t know the answer, but I’d like to try and see how we go.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the patience to listen with no judgment to those whose point of view we don’t necessarily agree with. We pray for fortitude and humility, that we might offer compassion even to those who find fault with us or whose values don’t coincide with our own.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, the fount of grace, patience and virtue. We give thanks for the Holy Spirit’s interventions in all of our relationships.