- As I receive God's hope in my life, I can give hope to others...
- When God called...
- There's nothing else I'd rather be doing!
- Discerning my vocation to Priesthood
- Family in mission - it's possible!
- God weaves our gifts and weaknesses into a beautiful tapestry
- The joy of being a missionary
- My call to be a missionary
Reaching out to those in need
As a missionary in New Zealand, one is often asked, “Do we really need missionaries here?” The reaction is even stronger if one speaks about doing mercy work or humanitarian work - “But there are not so many poor people here!” If anyone would speak of poverty, India or Africa would spring to mind. For the greater part of her life, Mother Teresa lived in Calcutta among the poorest of the poor and yet she stressed upon the fact that ‘the poor’ are all around us, wherever we go.
As a matter of choice, there are people who camp out at night sleeping in expensive sleeping bags lined with down feathers. Yet, there are others who huddle under any small ledge each night because they have no home. Some choose to walk bare-footed while others do so because their shoes are worn-out from walking the streets endlessly. Food is thrown out into dustbins while others rummage through garbage looking for food. There are people who pay for advice on a diet to starve themselves to lose weight while others go hungry because they are penniless. Many go home and find pleasure watching television or bury themselves in their own busy world while others hover in the background waiting to love and be loved. Would you have to travel to India to find this?
At St. Gerard’s Monastery, the ICPE Mission Centre in New Zealand, we found a part of Calcutta in the soup kitchen. Each week, we went to the soup kitchen to serve the homeless of Wellington. The work we did was simple, offering the "guests" a cup of tea or coffee along with a hot meal and cleaning after they have dined with us. In order to be one among them, some of us sat down and had a meal with them. Having no homes means that the "guests" often have not had a shower for ages and are wearing their entire wardrobe. There may be a stale odour lingering in the air. Yet, with each passing moment one tends to stop noticing that as you watch people being content with a good meal. Each time we were blessed and received much more than we had given. As we offered them a smile along with the food and drink, we realised that what most people look for is love and the knowledge that someone cares enough to recognise them as people created by God.
So where is your Calcutta? Could it be that Calcutta is closer to you than you think?
Esther Saldanha, India