“There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves in the service of their brothers, although they are not aware of it, are those who love God.” This is what Pope Francis said during the homily at the celebration for the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the small nun who chose to wear a blue and white sari, the color of the caste of “untouchables”, considered the last among the last in India.
After the proclamation of the formula in Latin, in which the “small pencil in God’s hands” was included among the saints, thunderous applause exploded in St. Peter’s Square, crowded with over 100 thousand faithful and colored with red and black flags of Albania, the land that gave birth to the religious woman.
“Who can imagine what the Lord wants?” asked Pope Francis during his homily, explaining that this “question from the Book of Wisdom, which we heard in the first reading presents us with our life as a mystery, whose key interpretation is not in our possession. The protagonists of history are always two: God on the one hand, and men on the other hand. Our task is to perceive God’s call and accept his will. But to accept it without hesitation, we should ask ourselves: what is the will of God in my life?”
But the answer to this question, as explained by the Pontiff, is contained in the same passage. “Men were instructed in what pleases you. To test the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases Him. Many times the prophets announce what pleases the Lord. Their message is a wonderful synthesis of expression: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’. God appreciates every work of mercy because the brother who helps to recognize the face of God no one can see. Whenever we lean towards the needs of the saints, we gave food and water to Jesus; we dressed, supported, and visited the Son of God.”
Besides, Pope Francis wanted to emphasize that each of us is called to translate concretely what we ask and plead in prayer, and profess in our faith. Later, he said that “there is no alternative to charity.” “Christian life, however, is not a simple aid that comes in times of need – said Francesco -. If this were the case, we would certainly have a nice feeling of human solidarity that elicits an immediate benefit, but it would be sterile, without any roots. The commitment that the Lord asks from us, on the contrary, is that of a vocation to charity with which every disciple of Christ puts his life in our service, to grow in love every day.”
“We have heard in the Gospel: ‘a large crowd went with Jesus’. Today that ‘large’ crowd is represented by the wide world of volunteering, gathered here on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy. You are that crowd that follows the Master and that renders his love visible for every person – the Pope said -. I repeat the words of Apostle Paul: ‘Your love has given me great joy and consolation, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by thee’ (Fm 7). How many hands volunteers support; how many tears they dry; what love is poured into their hidden, humble, and disinterested service. This commendable service gives voice to faith and expresses the mercy of God, who is himself close to those in need.”
“Mother Teresa, throughout her existence, has been a generous dispenser of divine mercy, willing to help everyone, accepting and defending human life, the unborn and the abandoned and rejected – the Pope said -. She committed to the defense of life, incessantly proclaiming that those who have not come into this world yet are the weakest, the smallest, the poorest’. She leaned on helpless people, left to die on the roadside, recognizing the dignity God had given them; her voice reached the powerful of the earth, so they would recognize their faults, crimes of poverty they have created themselves. Mercy was for her the ‘salt’ that gave flavor to all her work, and ”the light that lit up the darkness of those who had no more tears to cry even their poverty and suffering”.
“Her mission on the outskirts of the cities and in the existential suburbs still remains today as an eloquent testimony of God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today I give this emblematic woman and consecrated to the whole world of volunteering: let her be your model of holiness! -concluded his homily Pope Francis -. May this tireless worker of mercy help us understand more and more that our only criterion of action is gratuitous love, free from ideologies and from any obligation and poured on everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa used to say: ‘Maybe I do not speak their language, but I can smile’. Let us keep her smile in our hearts and donate it to those we meet on our journey, especially to those who suffer. Thus, we will open horizons of joy and hope for the humanity that is so discouraged and in need of understanding and tenderness.