MUMBAI, India – If Mother Teresa were alive today, she’d call on people to not be indifferent to the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta.
He was speaking during a Mass on St. Teresa of Calcutta’s feast day on Sep. 5.
“St. Mother Teresa’s focus was on Jesus and His love for all, especially the poor. Her spirituality was based on the person of Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us. She believed in the dignity of every person as created in the image and likeness of God,” the archbishop said.
The Albanian nun served “poorest of the poor” in the slums of Calcutta for decades, founding the Missionaries of Charity religious order. Mother Teresa died on Sep. 5, 1997, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II just 6 years later. She was canonized by Pope Francis in 2016.
“To see Jesus in every person and love Him very specially in the poor, needy, sick, destitute and suffering through care and service, became the foundation of her life as a Missionary of Charity. Having been called to be light in darkness, St. Teresa lived her vocation to the fullest bringing light, love, life and joy of Jesus in the lives of thousands,” D’Souza said during the Mass celebrated at her tomb.
“We are experiencing an unprecedented pandemic and many lockdowns affecting life of all sections of people, especially the poor,” the archbishop continued.
“Death, hunger and poverty are around us. If Mother Teresa were alive today, she would tell us: See Jesus in every suffering person, needy person, poor person, dying person, and care for him or her in whatever way you can … share what you have with the needy … do not be indifferent; Jesus will work miracles through you.’ Mother was fully convinced that Jesus fed the five thousand by working a miracle to feed them because he had compassion on them, and he taught them about the Kingdom of God. Through her Sisters and Brothers of the Missionaries of Charity and thousands of collaborators, Mother is continuing her service to the poorest of the poor today,” D’Souza said.
India currently has over 4.2 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the second highest in the world after the United States. The country has also recorded 71,642 deaths attributed to the disease, the third-highest national death toll.
India went into lockdown on March 24, trapping millions of day laborers and other internal migrants far from their home villages without any money. Despite the increasing number of cases, the country continues to reopen, to prevent further damage to the economy.
Officials claim they are conducting a million tests a day, but internal migration sees new hotspots of infection emerging in the country of 1.3 billion people.
During his homily, D’Souza praised those working tirelessly to serve those affected by the pandemic.
“Many a COVID warrior, or those very generous and selfless men and women of all religions and faith convictions who have been serving heroically the sick, the poor, the hungry, are in some way or other inspired by the life and example of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, that outstanding good Samaritan of our times, as Pope Francis called her, who in turn, was a faithful disciple of Jesus and followed His example of love, compassion and service. In the midst of darkness and suffering, each one of us can be an instrument of light and peace, hope and faith, joy and forgiveness,” the archbishop said.
“St. Mother Teresa drew her strength from prayer, very specially from Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and with that strength met the same Jesus in the poorest of the poor and served Him with love. Mother’s love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary made her heart filled with pure love. May the Eucharist in which we meet Jesus help us too to meet Him in the poor and needy and respond to Him in them with love always,” he said.
This year’s celebration of Mother Teresa’s feast day was affected by COVID-19 preventative measures. The sisters attending the Mass were wearing masks and keeping the required social distance. Many of the other usual activities were cancelled due to the pandemic.