A four-time Gammy Award winner and singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman (b. 1964) observed, “I have seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.” Much can be said about the simplicity of angels. Many are people we take for granted and not making a fuss over. But they go about their business with an unexplained urgency. Divinely inspired their walk among mortals is considered to be especially special. You find them feeding the hungry, comforting the poor, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless. Just reflect on this quote from Saint Mother Teresa (1910–1997), Blessed of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic sister and missionary who said, “We can do no great things – only small things with great love.”
Small Things of Love
By 2012 in some 133 countries Saint Teresa was known to direct 4,500 sisters. Her Mission of Charity is alive among the helpless of the world. She herself was in the slums of Calcutta tending to those with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, and was prominent in providing soup kitchens, dispensaries, clinics, family counseling, orphanages and schools to benefit the poor.
Saint Teresa was undoubtedly a beacon among us. She shone a light on the rejected in India. Adherents of her charity have followed in her footsteps. The great need amongst the tens of millions around the globe continues to be great. Demand increases yearly as the worldwide population grows at an alarming rate in India, China, on the continents of Africa, and South America.
Snakes, salamanders and frogs shed their skins regularly. For these species such shedding is a sign of growth and development. Humans too do a different kind of shedding. Theirs can be viewed as a metaphor. This can be seen as spiritual growth – changing from the “old you” to a “new you.” Such a life brings vitality that’s spiritually, physically and emotionally uplifting. It’s seen in an awareness of how we interact with the least among us. Loving our neighbors and embracing their families is a way of shedding our “old skins.”
Professionals have used their calling to help others. But, are we doing enough? It’s being like Christ to feed the poor, cloth the naked, and care for the destitute. This attitude is by taking up a lifestyle of service. It’s good to have an outlook like Dr. Jonas Salk (1914–1995), a developer of a vaccine against polio when he remarked: “I feel the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” When he died Dr. Salk was pursuing the goal of finding a vaccination for HIV/AIDS. His life’s work was a culmination of years of dedication to painstaking research.
Our work in the world calls for many hands at the wheel. Planet earth is crying out because it’s broken. Christians have to pick up their cross and follow Christ. We’re all shining lights in a broken world, weighed down by sin, abuse, drought, famine, war and disease. As Americans we may not be presently experiencing afflictions like some of our brothers and sisters in other countries. But, let us give a helping hand when and where we can.