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St. Mother Teresa’s 1,2 Secret to love Jesus to the Max

By her life, St. Mother Teresa witnessed to the five-finger-gospel: “you did it to me.” She practiced the corporal works of mercy listed in the gospel according to Matthew chapter 25, which she summarized on the palm of her hand as the gospel on five fingers. (She also practiced the spiritual works of mercy as well, especially counseling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant). Whatever St. Teresa of Calcutta did to the least of her brothers and sisters, she did to Jesus. She had the ability to recognize Jesus in his distressing disguises. Like a human radar, she could detect him in those who were hungry, thirsty, naked, and sick.

How did this Missionary of Charity find Jesus in her fellow human beings, in those in the poor and needy? St. Mother Teresa could recognize Jesus hidden in these souls because she could first recognize him in the Holy Eucharist. Every day, she and her sisters spent time with him in prayer and adoration before his substantial presence in the Eucharist. If she could not see him there, she couldn’t see him anywhere. And certainly, she couldn’t care for Jesus and love him in those who were difficult to care for and in those who were challenging to love unless she was empowered to do so by receiving him in Holy Communion. In this way, she loved Jesus with his own heart.

St. Mother Teresa believed it was critically important to have devotion to Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist in order to carry out the mission of loving him in the poor. Every convent of the Missionaries of Charity has a chapel with Jesus front and center in the tabernacle as well as an altar for priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And next to the crucifix above the altar, you will find the words, “I thirst.” Jesus thirsts for our love, truly present, disguised in the little white host host and also in those around us, disguised as family members, coworkers, and as those who suffer.

Combined with devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist, Mother Teresa had another powerful way of recognizing Christ the King in disguise. St. Teresa taught and lived devotion and consecration to Our Lady in order to love Jesus with the heart of his own mother, which was most like unto the heart of her Son. “Give me your heart, so pure and Immaculate,” Mother Teresa would pray before receiving Jesus before every Holy Communion, asking to love like the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When he was hungry, the Blessed Virgin Mary fed Jesus, nourishing him with her own body. When he was thirsty she gave him drink from the well. When he was a stranger in his own creation, among his own people, she received him completely and entirely. When he came into this world naked, she clothed him with swaddling clothes, and with garments that she made for him as he grew. When he was ill, because he bore our infirmities, taking upon himself our suffering, she nursed him back to health. When he was imprisoned on the night of Holy Thursday in the house of Caiaphas, as the prophet Jeremiah was kept in the cistern, Mary’s spiritual maternal presence accompanied him, keeping watch with him. Whatever she did for Jesus, she did for the least ones. And whatever she did on earth, and continues to do now for the Mystical Body of her Son, she did it, and does it, to him. How blessed was (and is) the mother of the King! How happy Jesus must have been to put her at the head of the sheep At his right hand! And how overjoyed he must have been to welcome her into the eternal inheritance of the kingdom prepared for her from the foundation of the world!

We need to contemplate the heart of Jesus, we need to receive his heart into our very selves. How else can we love as he does? By adoring Jesus and receiving him hidden in the Eucharistic host, we have the power to be Jesus and to recognize and minister to him hidden in the poor— to know him in everyone around us. And as no one was ever conformed to the heart of Jesus as Mary was, we need her heart so keenly attuned to see him wherever he is to be found. With these two means, the gift of the Holy Eucharist and the gift of the immaculate heart of Mary, we will be more able to love Jesus as he deserves to be loved by us. Further combined with St. Joseph, who was given a share in the Father’s own love for his Eternally begotten Son, our love can reach full capacity.

St. Mother Teresa’s deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Mother was the secret of her loving Jesus to the maximum, even in the darkness. May she teach us how to do the same.

St. Mother Teresa, pray for us!

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