Mother Teresa's iconic face is among the most well known, certainly in my lifetime, while her spirit is equally revered. And in a world culture that prioritizes fashion and the negative aspects of the cult of personality, Mother Teresa humbly stands outside the reach of both: how could it be otherwise, for she was always most herself and comfortable standing nearest to the gutter? The glittering stars of Wealth, Privilege, and Power loved having their pictures taken with her -- but always a safe distance from that gutter of hers...
Being a devout Roman Catholic, Mother Teresa lived and breathed a Catholicism of, perhaps, another day and age, but she also served to bridge the ancient with the radically renewed. To be sure, we are unaware of her having ever publicly criticized the Church in either its doctrines or its hierarchy -- so she can seem quite dated -- yet her fidelity to her core vision of Yeshua-in-the-Poor, still casts its searching spotlight upon world systems of domination that are in dire need of a complete reformation: religion, politics, and economics alike. Again, she offered no public condemnation of Power by way of a commentary upon the times: EXCEPT for her decided faithfulness to a call that was a complete repudiation of that same Power: gathering up the used, abused, and utterly screwed up into Homes of Welcoming and Peace was commentary enough upon the systems that chew up and spit out the "least" among us!
The "icing" on the non-existent "cake" of Mother Teresa was her dare to Name those very same used, abused, and utterly screwed up: "Jesus"! Daring to proclaim that "God among us" was the abandoned poor, was a critique of predatory capitalism that even surpassed that of the ancient Biblical Prophets and Karl Marx himself! Daring to embrace those who were summarily cast aside by every system of Power, and to acknowledge their inalienable human worth and dignity, was once again a critique of Light and Truth. And, finally, daring to affirm the everlasting value of the smallest and seemingly most insignificant action, Mother Teresa empowered each one of us to live as agents of transformation: by our daily actions of service, surrender, and solidarity we may each advance the cause of everyone's liberation in Justice and Peace. This is no small thing!
The one task that Mother Teresa felt that the Holy One had allotted her was that of unconditional Love: especially for the poorest of the poor. Her solidarity with the leper was an enlightening contrast with the spotlight of the sensational: in a world culture made drunken by the trinkets of pleasure dropped from the tables of the Super-Rich and Powerful (for the sole intended purpose of numbing our minds and our souls), Mother Teresa's embrace of the leper marks the path of rEvolution: we are each and all worth infinitely more than any trinket -- even more than all of the trinkets combined!
The revelation, if you will, of Mother Teresa is precisely this: YOUR very being is the One Essential Revelation of the Holy One -- without exception! This very same One Love is the animating consciousness that creates, supports, and sustains the entire Universe! This Unity, this One Love, is worthy of our adoration and our surrender: and, side-by-side with that, of our service and our solidarity! By living this essential Oneness, we begin to put aright a world, a religion, a politics, and an economics that has gone astray into the dark practices of Domination: Oneness is both the antidote and the vision: Oneness is both the path and the New Creation. Mother Teresa played her part in the drama of the 20th century exceedingly well: it is now our turn to take up where she left off and chart a new society within the shell of the old...
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.