Saturday, February 19, 2011

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu: The Woman Who Took a Leap of Faith

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” 
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”    -- Luke 10:29~37

Is life all about eating, working, playing and sleeping, and then death? I believe that life should be more than this. I believe that our life should matter to the people around us, and to the world that we will someday leave behind. Our life should be a contribution to making the world a better place.

While teaching St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu saw the poverty and suffering of the people outside of the convent. The hopelessness and despair written all over the faces of the poor, the sick and the needy outside the school stirred deeply her soul. Her heart ached to help out. But can she leave behind the comfort within the walls of the convent, and go out to live among the poorest of the poor? And what can she do? She was just alone with very limited resources.

Dark clouds of doubts and fears must have descended upon the mind and heart of Agnes. The sheer size, difficulty and complexity of the task could paralyze even a strong man, much more a frail nun. But in 1948, she asked permission from her superiors to leave the convent school, and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Agnes helped and served people suffering from various incurable diseases, affected by natural calamities and those unwanted by the society. Love, humanity and helping others selflessly were her reasons to live.

At first, she single-handedly started an open-air classroom for poor children in one of the slums Calcutta. Lack of fund didn’t deter her passion to serve the poor. But soon God blessed Agnes’ effort and volunteers came in. Also, the order she founded, ‘The Missionary of Charity’, grew worldwide thus allowing more people to receive God’s love and care through the order.

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu or more popularly known as Mother Theresa of Calcutta has long been gone; she died last September 5, 1997. But that one decision she made left a positive global impact that inspired thousands, if not millions, of people to follow the footsteps of the Good Samaritan. Truly she was the neighbor that Jesus talked about. She is an inspiration to us all that no matter what our situation is right now, if we take a leap of faith in God, then we can do great things that will help make the world a better place. Then our life will not be wasted at all.

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