Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II met on several occasions, but there’s one encounter that illuminates how much the Holy Spirit was truly present in Mother Teresa. It was recounted in a recent edition of the Italian bimonthly publication Miracoli e misteri (“Miracles and Mysteries”) in an article by Massimiliano Di Paolantonio.
The author recounts how Mother Teresa was in a car on her way to New Delhi to greet the Holy Father, when at a certain point she noticed a person with leprosy suffering in solitude by the side of the road. She had the driver pull the car over, got out, and started to take care of the leper. She spoke with him at length to console him, bringing him the love of God and instilling hope and courage. She set out again and was late for her appointment.
When one of the Indian cardinals present pointed out to her that she had kept the Vicar of Christ waiting, she calmly replied: “Yes, I know, but I met Christ on the road.”
Christ is in other people …
Truly, the fire of Jesus’ love guided Mother Teresa’s life. If Christ is present in our neighbor, if a sick person is Christ, then even the pope can wait. We need to be more flexible with our schedules and give time a different and more relative importance. Instead of letting it be a tyrant that makes us feel like we’re not in control, forcing us into a hurried and distracted race, we need to use it fruitfully, giving importance to each moment, filling it with meaning and peace. When we are too subservient to our schedules, we don’t even smile at those we meet on our way—not only on the road, but even inside our homes. We act like slaves to time, not its masters.
Like Mother Teresa, we need to use our time without anxiety.
Only by giving the Lord top priority, by putting Him first in our lives and recognizing His living presence in those around us, can we reverse this destructive way of living. Even on the most important days, when we have work meetings, university exams, or medical visits, the clock we must look to in order to mark our time is always that of Christ.
If we recognize that Jesus is in others, particularly close to us in those we see daily and those in difficulty, like Mother Teresa we will then stop without anxiety and worry—even at the cost of postponing some commitment. We’ll listen calmly, for example, to a friend who wants to let off steam, a son or daughter who wants to tell us about their romantic woes, or a colleague whose spouse is hospitalized. Because there too, every day, we encounter Christ.