mother teresa quotes on service

Sara and Justin Kraft

10 Mother Teresa Quotes on Service to Make you Think

One cannot be fully alive without relationships with others. We are made for love, to be unified in giving and receiving with others and ultimately with God. If we close ourselves off to service, we will never create the space within ourselves to be filled with the love of God. He can transform the most difficult tasks into meaningful experiences, but we have to be aware of His presence. These Mother Teresa quotes on service and serving the poor exemplify the meaning of charity and love for others. Do we take advantage of this? Do we see God in each and every human being?

1. "I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn't touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God." 

So often, we shy away from the gross tasks, like cleaning the toilets and diaper changes, because they can be disgusting. Every task we do, we should do for great love of God, no matter how gross it is.

2. "Love is a one-way street.  It always moves away from self in the direction of the other.  Love is the ultimate gift of our selves to others.  When we stop giving we stop loving, when we stop loving we stop growing, and unless we grow we will never attain personal fulfillment; we will never open out to receive the life of God.  It is through love we encounter God.”  (Where there is Love, there is God, p. 26)

One cannot be fully alive without relationships with others. We are made for love, to be unified in a giving and receiving with others and ultimately with God. If we close ourselves off to service, we will never create the space within ourselves to be filled with the love of God. Rather, like a cup that is full, his love will only spill over the edges never finding room within our hearts to make us whole.

3. "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." 

So often, I get discouraged by the many things I cannot do (such as feed a hundred people), that I do not do feed anyone. If I feed one, there is one less hungry person in the world. If every one of us followed this advice, we could feed the world.

4. "How do you know, love, and serve God?  How do you prove that you love Him?  In the family, the father proves his love by all that he does for his children, for his wife.  We prove our love for Jesus by what we do, by who we are.”  (Where there is Love, there is God, p. 277)

Love is defined by actions and the most important actions are our everyday actions. Most of these actions are small, but the way I respond to everyday situations in my home and with my children reveals who I am at my core. The way I respond to interruptions in my day due to diaper changes, crying, or even just needs for attention says more about me then all the actions I do when others are watching.

5. "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work." 

Service flows from prayer. We are only able to serve others to the degree that we are connected to Jesus, “according to the graces we have received.” We cannot hope to help other apart from Jesus. Sometimes, we may feel far from Jesus, but this should not be an obstacle. At these times we can turn to Him with humility and do the humble work.

6. "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action."

We all want to do great things. It is hard to remember that sometimes what seems to be humble work is really the great things.

7. "Sometime ago a man to our house and he said, ‘Mother, there is a family, a Hindu family, that has eight children.  They have not eaten for a long time.  Do something for them.’ So I took some rice and I went.  When I arrived at their house I could see the hunger in the children’s eyes.  Their eyes were shining with hunger.  I gave the rice to the mother, and she took the rice.  She divided it into two, and then she went out.  When she came back, I asked her, ‘Where did you go?’ She said, ‘They are hungry also.’  Next door neighbor, they were also hungry.  What struck me most, not that she gave the rice but she knew they were hungry.  And because she knew, she shared.  And this is what we have to come to know….  Love, to be true, has to hurt and this woman who was hungry – she knew that her neighbor was also hungry, and that family happened to be a Muslim family.  So it was touching, so real.”  (Mother Theresa, Where there is Love, there is God,  p. 337)

Many think the opposite of love is hate, but the opposite of love is really indifference. How often do we fail to even give notice to the pain of others? We hold them at arm’s length. Not allowing their circumstance to break our comfort. We may not always be able to help, but the first step of love is to share in the pain of another.

8. "We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” 

I have had the opportunity to work with the Missionaries of Charity in a number of their houses here in the U.S and even abroad. One thing that has always impressed me is that they not only care for the poor, but they restore their dignity by giving them a purpose. In all of their houses, everyone who can work does work, even if it is the smallest of jobs. For instance, I will always remember the woman who answered the door at the Missionary of Charity house in Costa Rica. She had a severe disability. Her job was to sit on a chair by the door and get a sister when the doorbell rang. A simple job, but one she carried out with pride.

9. “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

We spend a great deal of time pursuing our hopes and dreams. There is nothing wrong with this. But, we must remember that God does not value the things of the world. He values love. Let us each ask ourselves, “How do we help the least of God’s people?  Do I give food and shelter to the hungry and homeless (either directly or through financial support)?”

10. "I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?"

God can make the ugly beautiful. He can transform the most difficult tasks into meaningful experiences, but we have to be aware of His presence. Do we take advantage of this? Do we see God in each and every human being? Oftentimes, especially when I am angry because I feel wronged, I do not.

What would you add? Leave a comment below!