“Do something beautiful for God.” This saying was at the heart of Blessed Mother Teresa’s spirituality and mission. The simple phrase is rich in meaning for each and every disciple of Christ.
These past few weeks I have written about politics, the election and voting with a well-formed conscience. This week, with the election taking place, I want to offer you one last thought on voting, which is tied to Mother Teresa’s desire to fill her life with acts of love for God, building a culture of life.
Mother Teresa’s spiritual life was centered on two Scripture passages. The first is the story of Mary Magdalene pouring expensive oil on Jesus’ head just days before he was crucified. Some of the disciples were upset that she had “wasted” something so valuable, but Jesus replied, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mk 14:6).
For the saint of Calcutta, doing beautiful things for Jesus was intimately tied to satisfying his thirst for our love and his thirst to love each one of us. Her inspiration for quenching Jesus’ thirst came from reflecting on the moment when Christ hung on the cross and cried out, “I thirst” (Jn 19: 28).
As she was nearing the end of her life, Mother Teresa wrote a letter to all of her religious sisters about Jesus’ thirst. She told them, “If you remember anything from Mother’s letter, remember this—‘I Thirst’ is something much deeper than just Jesus saying ‘I love you.’ Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him.”
Remember these two principles of doing something beautiful for God and responding to his thirst when you consider who you will vote for and what type of legislation you will support or oppose in the coming years.
In particular, I urge you to think of your children, grandchildren and the future generations of Coloradans. “The child,” Mother Teresa said, “is the beauty of God present in the world—that greatest gift to a family.” By standing up for our children, we are able to do something beautiful for God, as well as respond to his longing to love through us.
There are many issues being discussed at the state and national levels that will impact future generations, but there are two that I want to focus on this week. The first issue is education, and the second is supporting the stability and well-being of families.
When it comes to education, candidates and policies that promote parental choice in education deserve our support. The current situation of taxpayer funds only going to public schools makes it difficult for parents, especially those who are poor, to send their children to schools that they believe will best educate them and help them grow in virtue.
In the area of family life, Catholics should support candidates and legislation that promotes marriage between one man and one woman. This is because children are best supported by the complementary gifts of a mother and father. Indeed, research shows that children raised by their biological mother and father are better off emotionally and economically than in any other setting.
Jesus thirsts for children to flourish, to come to know him and to be strongly rooted in their relationships with their mother and father. Indeed, it is from our own mothers and fathers that we begin to understand who God is as our Father and what it means that he claims us as his sons and daughters through baptism.
When Mother Teresa visited Denver in 1989 she gave all of us a gift. Her visit included a stop in one of Denver’s neighborhoods that was plagued by gang violence. The veteran journalist Terry Mattingly asked Mother Teresa if she might open a house there, but at the time Denver had just been added to a long list of dioceses around the world requesting the sisters.
Later in the day, Cardinal Stafford, who was then Archbishop of Denver, led an ecumenical prayer rally with her, followed by a presentation of gifts from the people of Colorado.
Mattingly, who was present for that exchange, recounted how Mother Teresa turned to the crowd and gestured for silence.
“I have a gift for you. I will give you my sisters and I hope that, together, we are going to do something beautiful for God,” she said.
In the coming year, I pray that you will join me in seeking to quench Jesus’ thirst with actions that give him the beautiful gift of holy, well-formed children. Let us build a culture of life and love by being the leaven of Christ in our homes, neighborhoods, work-places, society and culture! May we never fear to vote our faith and do something beautiful for God!