Stewardship Seeds NewsletterSpring 2008

Stewardship Lessons from Mother Teresa

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was famous for her incredible love of the poor, her simple lifestyle and her unwavering commitment to do God’s will. Understanding what motivated her total giving can help young people today understand and embrace a stewardship way of life.

“I Thirst”
Mother Teresa was a nun teaching in a school in Calcutta, India when she repeatedly heard Jesus telling her that He thirsted for the souls of the poor people in the streets of India who never had a chance to know God. Motivated by the thirst of Jesus on the cross Mother Teresa began a religious order in 1950 with herself as the only member. Today, still motivated by the thirst of Jesus, the Missionaries of Charity have over 4,500 sisters serving the poor in over 130 countries. In every Missionaries of Charity convent the words, “I thirst” hang next to the crucifix on the chapel wall. This is a constant reminder to the sisters that there is much work that Jesus wants them to do.

Learning Activity
Read the Passion of Our Lord in the Gospel of John, chapters 18-19. Have students reflect on the few words that Jesus speaks throughout the Passion. Do any of those words motivate them in the same way that “I thirst” motivated Mother Teresa? Can they think of other words that Jesus spoke throughout His lifetime that they would like to use to guide them in the same way that “I thirst” always guided Mother Teresa?

Gospel on Five Fingers
Mother Teresa always told her sisters to remember the “Gospel on Five Fingers.” She would say the words, “You did it for Me,” as she held up each finger of her hand. These words come from the Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46) where Jesus tells us that we will be judged by how we treated those who were thirsty or hungry or sick. When Mother Teresa began her work with the poor she cared for thousands of people who were truly thirsty, hungry, or sick, but later in her life as she became world famous and was invited to travel to the United States she began to teach that even people who have food and clothes and lots of material possessions can be poor because they are lonely or do not know God. She began to encourage all people to know who the poor were in their own corner of the world.

Learning Activity
Read the Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46). Ask students to make posters showing ways that we can live out the “Gospel on Five Fingers,” “You did it for me.”

One of Mother Teresa’s most frequent messages was to “Smile.” She would often tell her sisters, “This is holiness – to do His will with a big smile.” She also believed that a smile was a gift that we could give to one another and that when we followed Jesus it would be easy to smile because we would know that we were doing what God asked us to do. Mother Teresa once saw one of her sisters looking very sad, so Mother Teresa told her, “What did Jesus say - to carry the cross in front of Him or to follow Him? Why are you trying to go ahead of Him?” When we follow Jesus we smile. When we try to be out in front for Him we don’t see Him and we cannot smile.

Learning Activity
Ask students to remember a time when a smile from someone made them feel better. Discuss ways that students can remember to give the gift of a smile. Have students make “smile” bracelets from elastic bands. They can start each day with the bracelet on their left arm and when they remember to show God’s love to someone with a smile, they can move the bracelet to their other arm.