Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and given the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985. She was canonized a saint in 2016. She spent her life loving the poorest of the poor. She never criticized people, governments, or individuals for faults that might have contributed to sickness or poverty. She once said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
If I feel like criticizing someone, that person probably needs my help, my love, and maybe my prayer. Love helps; judging negatively doesn’t. Prayer helps—and prayer works! Instead of judging someone, take the time to love that person. That attitude of love will help that person—and help you as well.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”—John 15:12–13
The word love is used a lot. We hear it every day. Love your neighbor, love your country, and for Christians, love even your enemies. We all need to be loved; we all need to love because others also need to be loved. But what is love? Love is a choice, a decision to go out of oneself and look at what would be best for someone else instead of what appears to be best for me. That’s true love, and we all know that. Don’t worry about those positive feelings; they will soon be there in a deeper and long-lasting way.
St. John Paul II had an interesting description of love: “Love is a challenge God throws to us.” But why would loving my spouse, or child, or friend, or a stranger be a challenge? Because love, as John Paul defined it, is the sincere gift of oneself to another. I must forget myself or my schedule, my needs, or my comfort in favor of someone else. That’s the challenge God throws at us. Ultimately, by loving others in this way, we are showing God how much we love him. Choose to go outside yourself today for another person. You and they will be better and happier for it!
Prayer: Lord, I need your Holy Spirit so I can love as you love. Help me to choose the best for others. Amen.
A Smile Is the First Step to Love
“A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance.” —Proverbs 15:13
Our world today seems to be a war zone. It seems as though peace has gone out the window. But we can bring it back. St. Teresa of Calcutta walked into contentious situations in various countries. She carried with her the first step to peace. It’s simple, and we can all do it. She said, “Peace begins with a smile.” That means peace begins with me and within me, and I want to share it with you.
Most of the time I can be a joyful person. I can have that joy because I have hope. Occasionally I will feel some kind of “affliction.” But I am patient. It will pass. I can always have that small smile on my face, almost visible only to myself. The smile, Mother Teresa often said, is truly the first step in love. When someone smiles and says hello to me, down deep it seems to draw me out of myself. I feel noticed, valued, communicated with, acknowledged. Our world needs love and so do your family and friends. They need and want your love. Your smile must not only be the first step in love, but it could also be the next step as well. Take that next step for your family and friends. Take the first step with your smile. Share it with the next person you meet. They may need the love that’s behind that smile.
Prayer: Lord, help me to always carry some joy in my heart and let it grow into a small smile. Amen.
Do a Small Act of Love
“Let all that you do be done in love.”—1 Corinthians 16:14
God sees every act of love as great. Today do a small act of love for someone. Open a door for someone, or just say “please” or “thank you.” Believe that however small it seems, it is great in the eyes of God. Most of us are not called to do great deeds, but we can all do small things done with great love. Few of us are in a position to help hundreds of others—here or abroad—but we can reach out and help that one friend or neighbor or relative or stranger or child.
As Mother Teresa often said, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
Prayer: Lord, help me to see the greatness in your eyes of my small acts of love and kindness. Amen.