via Wikipedia Commons
At the hour of death when we come face-to-face with God, we are going to be judged on love; not how much we have done, but how much love we put into the doing.
― Mother Teresa
Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of our newest Catholic saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta. She spent her life lifting “Lazarus” out of the gutter, providing tender care for the poor, the sick and the dying. She was motivated always by her great love for Jesus, “in His distressing disguise,” saying, “When we touch the sick and needy, we touch the suffering Body of Christ.”
Yet this little saint of the poor spoke often of another kind of poverty. She knew that the greatest gift she could give to the abandoned and the poor was the gift of love. She reminded us that the lack of love was the greatest poverty, and she recognized that this poverty afflicted even the rich, saying, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for... There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
The place to begin to serve the poor is in our own homes and families; wherever God has placed us. The poverty we encounter there may not be physical but spiritual. For many of us in affluent America, this is where we must reach out with the love of God: to the lonely, the lost, the addict, the young woman facing a crisis pregnancy, our elderly neighbor living alone. Mother Teresa reminds us, “There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”