The Saint of the Gutters


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Bible Reading: Zechariah 7:8-10

This is what the Lord Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Zechariah 7:9

SHE’S BEEN CALLED “the saint of the gutters.”

She was eighteen years old when she joined a religious order and went to India. She began teaching in Calcutta. There she saw more poor people than she’d ever seen in her life. Her heart overflowed with mercy and compassion for them, so she asked-and received-permission to leave her sheltered life as a nun and start working among some of the poorest, hungriest, neediest people in the world.

She started scraping food together for the hungry. She began taking in children, orphans who had nowhere else to go. Eventually, the group she started, called the Missionaries of Charity, operated food kitchens, hospitals, schools, orphanages, and shelters for lepers and those who were dying.

She worked in obscurity for years before the world began to learn of her work of mercy. Then, in 1979, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to this “saint of the gutters,” Mother Teresa. With the award came international recognition.

Today, it seems that everyone agrees that the mercy displayed by Mother Teresa is a good thing. Even when a lot of people claim that everyone has to “decide” what’s right or wrong for himself or herself, no one would argue that what Mother Teresa does is wrong. It’s easy to see that she is doing good, not evil. That judgment has nothing to do with what you think or what your culture thinks; what she does is good and admirable because it reflects what is good and admirable.

You see, it’s not up to any one of us-or even all of us put together—to decide whether mercy is right or wrong. God made it clear long ago that mercy is right, that acting mercifully toward others is good. Just about everybody in the world knows, in his heart of hearts, that mercy is right. That’s why we admire Mother Teresa; not because we have decided that mercy is a virtue, but because we recognize that which God has already called good, because she models what God has told us is right.

REFLECT: Mother Teresa is a model of mercy in many ways. Can you think of someone else who shows mercy to other people?

You may not know any lepers or starving people to show mercy to, but there are people in your life who need mercy and compassion. How can you practice showing mercy and kindness to others this week?

PRAY: “God, help me not to go through a single day this week without showing mercy to at least one person.”


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