The Value of Faithfulness

Faith without work is dead (James 2:26). Among those whom I admire for their faith manifested through actions is Mother Teresa. She cited the simple path. According to her, "Silence is prayer. Prayer is faith. Faith is love. Love is service. The fruit of service is peace.

Who is Mother Teresa?

Throughout her life, she set up facilities to support those dying with HIV, leprosy, and tuberculosis and lived to wholeheartedly serve the poorest of the poor as long as she lived. Upon receiving a Nobel Peace Prize for her work, she humbly stated, "I am not worthy".

Her childhood name was Agnes. Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia, Agnes was the youngest of 3 children. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.

During her years in public school, she showed a strong interest in foreign missions. At age 18, she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life.

The following year, she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There, she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her – the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming number of destitute people.

After leaving Loreto, she established a new religious community and undertook her new work. Sister Teresa took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slams and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals, the ordinary dress of an Indian woman, she soon began getting to know her neighbors – especially the poor and the sick, and getting to know their needs through visits.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, and the use of buildings. In 1952, the City of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a farmer hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute, As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholism, the aging, and street people.

For the next four decades, Mother Teresa was a woman of intense faith who fervently believed the world would be a better place, drop by drop, person by person. She dedicated her life to suffering and empowering the disenfranchised, and taught us, through her actions, to cultivate and live an attitude of faith.

Poverty, taught Mother Teresa, is not exclusive to being hungry or homeless; it includes feeling unwanted, uncared for, and unloved. Much of the world spends a great amount of time concerned with themselves – even Time magazine labeled millennials as the “Me Me Me” generation. Despite such, have the faith to care more for people to truly look outward.

While reading Mother Teresa’s Life, I realized that it is in faithfulness that one becomes charitable. Somehow, her submission to service of the poor is in conformity with my principle and that is: serving God by serving His people.

When I received my designation as section chief for scholarship and financial assistance, my initial reaction was to ponder on the reasons behind it. I later thought that God knows what’s the best for me. He puts me in a position where my service is most needed. After all, I am but a public servant.

In conclusion, faithfulness is about loving God and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Without faith, the world we live in would just be full of insensitivity, hatred, greed, and anger. Hence, faithfulness, it manifested through actions, build up God’s Kingdoms of love here on earth.

-Jeremy M. Gawongna