November 1, 2013

All Saints Day

"I hear she wasn't a very nice person."  

I have no personal knowledge of Mother Teresa, but my guess is that someone who gave her life to advocacy for the poor and got her hands dirty caring for the poorest might not be likable in the conventional sense, any more than Jesus was nice.
Something in our culture is willing to idolize recording stars and sports heroes but it rebels against the idea that there are heroes of virtue.
We tend to express contempt when virtuous people make us fear that they think they are better than we are. How many young spiritual heroes have been squashed by well-meaning folks telling them not to be better than other people?
Mother Teresa practiced her game and developed her art, becoming a star in compassion and advocacy. It takes nothing away from us to recognize her focus and accomplishment. It takes nothing away from us to recognize her discipline and energy. It takes nothing away from us to contemplate the ways in which, in fact, she is better than we are.   Or does it?

- Bishop Paul Marshall, Messages in the Mall