Mother Teresa, internationally renowned humanitarian & advocate for the world’s poor & helpless, 1979 Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work with the sick & hungry of Calcutta, is currently receiving a vast amount of media attention… for being human. In the upcoming book “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” a series of reprinted letters detail her personal struggles with faith & doubt. And its reception is exactly what she feared & why she asked for them to be destroyed & never released. She said that if released, “people will think more of me — less of Jesus.“
Now when you Google her name, instead of inspiring bio’s or lists of profound quotes, you see articles with titles like, “Mother Teresa – Heaven or Hell?”, “Was Mother Teresa an Agnostic?”, and “Mother Teresa’s spiritual darkness”. This hurts me.
I know this is a truly bizarre parallel, but back in 1996 I was really into the band Smashing Pumpkins. I remember reading an interview with front-man Billy Corgan in Spin Magazine in which he made this statement, This friend of mine asked me, “Do you really mean it when you sing ‘God is empty just like me’?” [from the song “Zero”] Now that’s a pretty over-the-top line. And 363 days out of the year, the answer is no. But those two days that I feel it, I feel it pretty intensely. Now, no one ever accused Corgan of being a humanitarian or theologian, but that line hit me pretty hard. As a Christian myself, it just made sense & gave me a feeling that maybe – just maybe – I wasn’t alone in my struggles & feelings of loneliness & emptiness.
Guess what? No matter how saintly, self-sacrificing & giving Mother Teresa was, she was ultimately a very mortal human being. If these new revelations about her personal life do anything at all, they help me to identify with her more – certainly not think less of her. I too know all about darkness… loneliness… doubt… and I’m no saint.
Thank you Teresa of Calcutta for inspiring me to be a better world-citizen, a more honest Christian, and a better reflection of Jesus in this all too dark & hurting world.