There is a widely quoted Saint Teresa of Calcutta saying that goes, “If you want to bring peace to the whole world, go home and love your family.” It’s a great quote. Very pithy. Unfortunately, she didn’t actually quite say it.
At the end of her 1984 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, what she said was, “And so, my prayer for you is that truth will bring prayer in our homes, and from the foot of prayer will be that we believe that in the poor it is Christ. And we will really believe, we will begin to love. And we will love naturally, we will try to do something. First in our own home, next door neighbor in the country we live, in the whole world.” (Nobel Peace Prize transcript)
It’s the same general idea, of course, but where the paraphrased quote is just vague enough to feel like it lets us off the hook a bit, the actual quote is a real challenge . . . the kind of challenge Jesus gives to his disciples in today’s Gospel.
Jesus first sent the Twelve out to serve and evangelize the people closest to them, and His instructions in the verses that follow are full of warnings about how just hard it’s going to be.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta is telling us the same thing. Go home and love my family? Sounds pretty easy.
I could be doing just about anything I please and still be loving my family. It might LOOK like I’m hiding in my room watching Netflix, but I’m definitely ALSO loving my family, right? Sure I am.
But that kind of passive love isn’t the challenge Saint Teresa of Calcutta gives us (Jesus neither). They are challenging all of us, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, siblings, to an active love, a giving love, a sacrificial love, a love that begins in prayer and ends in service (note to self: work on this part).
And, importantly, while both start us off with loving those closest to us, neither one actually lets us off the hook for loving and serving the whole world next. And THAT just might require getting out of my comfort zone.
Let’s pray the Act of Love today.
Kendra Tierney is currently writing a book, fixing up a tumbledown hundred year old house, and gestating baby number nine. In her free time, she carpools, homeschools, and feeds the other eight kids. And her husband. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here.