I was thinking about Mother Teresa today. Some people hate her, apparently. This was perplexing at first. Why would someone hate Mother Teresa? I mean, seriously? She went from nothing and through love the Missionaries of Charity was operating 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools at the time of her death.[Wikipedia] What's to hate?
It did start to make sense, though, in a way. It can be an uncomfortable thing when our conscience and flesh battle. The other day at Mass, the priest was talking about prayer and how our lives should be focused on it and our relationship with God. He wasn't pointing fingers and I agree wholeheartedly, and yet it was uncomfortable. To quote my dad regarding some other good homilies, I wanted to crawl under the pew and hide. Why? Inside my brain there was quite a discussion going on.
I really ought to pray more. I've known that for some time now. I'm busy. I'm never too busy for God. That's ridiculous. And lazy. I have things to do. I run a summer camp, you know. Lots of things to plan. It'll go better if I pray more. I need God's help. Am I going to have to wake up earlier to make that happen? I'm kind of tired already. Seriously? God, dying on the cross for you? And you're too tired? You can stop talking now. I do pray. When it is convenient. Shut up!There I was, listening to someone I agree with, having this internal debate. I really felt like a part of me was that ant that flees the kid with the magnifying glass. Run away! Run away! Flee the bright light!
Oddly, I had a similar reaction to some of the Christians I met when I moved here. They irritated me into reading the Bible. And boy, were they irritating. I mean, first they show up during an ice storm of all things to bring me food.
What kind of moron drives right after an ice storm to bring someone food and start to take care of their downed limbs? They must be weirdos. And yet they seem so happy to do it. Whatever. They're always acting so nice all the time. They probably want something. I bet they are weird and judgy, just like all the other fundamentalists I know. I don't know any fundamentalist Christians. They're in the movies! Do you even know if these people are fundamentalists? They must be. They're too nice.This isn't new. People have thought religious types were crazy for awhile. In the Gospels, even Jesus' close relatives thought He'd lost his mind and went to try and restrain him.
Oh, then they wanted to talk about God. And I met more like them. That conversation in my head went on for months. At night. At work. In the car.
I go to church every Sunday! What else is there? They seem to have something I don't have. They must be idiots. That's how they can be so happy. Maybe I should read more of the Bible. See the whole story of Jesus. Then I'd know more than them. Brilliant! Sigh.It was exhausting. I once told one of the women she was like an evil gnome running around in my mental filing system, gleefully chucking this file here and there and shredding a few of them just to mess with me. It was uncomfortable and unpleasant. A lot of times I felt anxious and overwhelmed and a bit like that ant who flees the kid with the magnifying glass. My conscience was starting a fire.
Now I imagine that with people who really are opposed to the idea of God. This has got to be hard, in and of itself, even if they don't really realize it. What kind of internal conversation does that prompt?
What if there is a God?No matter how tiny those italics are, they're still there. The conscience never goes entirely away, as much as we may try to silence it. Now, add someone like Mother Teresa to the mix. Someone who gives without expecting a return on investment. Someone who helps the dying even if it means putting herself at risk. Time and time again, over and over, each and every day, with no expected chance of payout, retirement, or (earthly) rest. What kind of internal conversation does that provoke?
If pride gets in the way of listening, then there's really only one response. Hate the thing causing the discomfort. I did it in a way with my friends; I did it in a little way with the priest. Hide from the light. It is exhausting, but seemingly less painful. In the Gospels, people who were not liking the light killed off GOD to make it stop. That's pretty extreme avoidance right there.
So if this light can be so scary to some people, why be one? If such light can inspire such hatred, it can also inspire great love. If people hate God, then they will hate His reflection in those that are such good mirrors. If they want to know God, if they love God, then a light here can only bring good. People talk about seeing a bright light when they die - every day Mother Teresa was somebody's light before they died. If someone was hiding, and saw her, perhaps they stopped long enough to look at the light. Maybe if they read her book they see that such life giving love is not human.
Maybe if we do not fear we can be that light for someone else. Hate us or love God, it is the only thing that works because only truth saves.