The small woman in the white sari here is Mother Teresa. She is giving an address after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Her words touched us this week because she calls us to love “until it hurts.”
Here’s a story she tells about loving “until it hurts.” One night, a man came to the convent where Mother Teresa lived with other sisters who joined her missionary work. The man said he knew of a Hindu family with eight children who were starving.
Mother Teresa took a package of rice to the family immediately. The mother took the rice, divided it, and then left their home with half. When she returned, Mother Teresa asked where she had gone.
She told Mother Teresa that she knew that their neighbors, who were Muslim, were also hungry, so she shared what she had received.
“What surprised me most,” Mother Teresa said, was “not that she gave the rice, but … that in her suffering, in her hunger, she knew that somebody else was hungry, and she had the courage to share, share the love.”
Mother Teresa is now a saint because of her great love for God and the poor. She reached out to those who were forgotten and abandoned, the sick and hungry, because she gave herself over to love. This video includes some excerpts from her acceptance speech, but it is worth reading or viewing the whole address.
There is a balance to strike in this call to “love until it hurts.” This is not a justification to stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship — love always wants what is good for others. Mother Teresa’s message moves us to step beyond ourselves, to find new ways to reach out to the people in our lives and love them more deeply.
Let’s keep our hearts open this week so we’re ready to love until it hurts.