Advent, Mother Teresa, Holy Family
FR. SHENAN BOQUET writes that Blessed Mother Teresa will inspire you this Advent . . .
Blessed Mother Teresa’s tendency to offer quotes of spiritual genius offers timeless inspiration. In all the good she did, it was her faithful disposition that led her to accomplish great things for God’s glory.
Her willingness to help those suffering physical poverty, regardless of race or creed, clearly demonstrates “love for neighbor,” as demanded by biblical and Church teaching. Yet her greatest gift was her concern for people’s spiritual poverty. How can we acquire such a disposition in light of our own obstacles and sufferings?
Perhaps the holy woman of Calcutta simply placed herself where material and spiritual poverty knew no bounds. Picture the dramatic scene in Bethlehem. Joseph, keen to protect and provide for his expectant wife finally reaches his destination. The couple desperately seeks lodging after a long, weary journey on a road rife with dangers.
When a shelter is finally discovered, it’s just a very simple dwelling — a drafty, dank, dark and pungent cave surrounded by curious creatures. To make matters worse, what comfort could a feeding trough — a mere shallow and empty depression used to nourish livestock with food or water — provide for a swaddled newborn babe?
Imagine the holy couple amid such great difficulty, completely dependent on God, trusting in him to provide for their material and spiritual needs. History’s greatest accomplishment is delivered in the nativity, God’s gift of salvation through the joyous birth of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
Even in the face of suffering, discomfort, and uncertainty, the greatest of deeds can be accomplished — just as the greatest of gifts can be unwrapped. This scripture passage presents God’s disposition for unveiling his eternal gift of salvation through the incarnation: “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
This is precisely why, in the humblest of settings, God’s works are accomplished completely through the desired dependence and disposition that the holy couple possessed. How to embrace such a disposition toward God is best explained by Mother Teresa: “Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your own weakness.”
Life’s many obstacles are best overcome with complete dependence on God. Likened to the trough of the nativity scene, God cradles all of our material and spiritual needs in the most humbling and mysterious of ways when we empty ourselves. Following in the holy footsteps of St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother, we too must embrace the cradle of a greater poverty of spirit, an impetus for an intimate and life-saving prayer life.
Such transformation allows God to fully maximize any talent, ability, wealth, reputation, influence and achievement to bring about great accomplishments for his kingdom. As Mother Teresa cautions, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts.”
In this season of anticipation, joy, and wonder, consider for a moment the disposition we should have toward God, the giver of all gifts. Are we allowing ourselves to be emptied, addressing the temporal and spiritual poverty of our neighbor — like Mother Teresa and the Holy Family — through our personal and professional lives?
I strive to live this very disposition in serving the Lord and his Church — my neighbor — as priest. The Lord continues to inspire me to exercise this disposition to accomplish great deeds in his vineyard in my current role as president of Human Life International. Such wondrous transformation brings about great accomplishments as seen in this admirable Catholic and educational apostolate. Throughout HLI’s 40-year mission, we have worked to encourage the faithful to embrace a disposition toward God and neighbor, following his will to cultivate, sustain and build a Culture of Life around the world in defense of life and family.
Perhaps this final pearl of wisdom from Mother Teresa will be an inspiration for your own disposition: “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.”
FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La.