TIME: Does the fact that you are a woman make your message more understandable?
Mother Teresa:I never think like that.
TIME: But don’t you think the world responds better to a mother?
Mother Teresa:People are responding not because of me, but because of what we’re doing. Before, people were speaking much about the poor, but now more and more people are speaking to the poor. That’s the great difference. The work has created this.
TIME: Humble as you are, it must be an extraordinary thing to be a vehicle of God’s grace in the world.
Mother Teresa:But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness.
TIME: You are nothingness?
Mother Teresa:I’m very sure of that.
TIME: You feel you have no special qualities?
Mother Teresa:I don’t think so. I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. In human terms, the success of our work should not have happened, no? That is a sign that it’s His work, and that He is using others as instruments – all our Sisters. None of us could produce this. Yet see what He has done.
TIME: Is materialism in the West a serious problem?
Mother Teresa:I don’t know. I have so many things to think about. I pray lots about that, but I am not occupied by that. Take our congregation for example, we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.
TIME: How do you find rich people then?
Mother Teresa:I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don’t say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that (kind of) poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
TIME: What are your plans for the future?
Mother Teresa:I just take one day. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today to love Jesus.
Mother Teresa’s answers actually awaken us to a whole new opportunity spectrum, a new possibility. Which is, to be an instrument in Life’s hand, to serve a higher purpose, to touch another Life and make a difference. If you take stock of the amount of time you spend worrying about and berating your circumstances or fearing yet-to-be-born consequences, you will discover just how much of your Life you have wasted and continue to waste. If you are feeling an emptiness suffocate you, it is because what you do day in day out has stopped being meaningful. Being a bread-winner and provider is not the only thing you are both capable of and created on this planet for. There’s more you can do. The spirit of Mother Teresa’s Life can guide you if you want it to. You don’t always have to invest an entire lifetime serving others. But you can make your lifetime meaningful by devoting some of your time daily or weekly or even monthly, to eradicating the hunger for love and understanding in your circle of influence. Instead of being obsessed with earning, providing for and protecting your flock, you can spread your wings, embrace a few causes close to your heart and offer yourself and your time to create value among them.
Then you will find your response to the “What do you do?” question far more answer-worthy. This is how you learn to love Life and live it fully. This was the message and spirit of Mother Teresa’s Life. This Women’s Day, celebrate that spirit. Do create value, do touch a Life, do wipe a tear, do feed a hungry soul, do educate a child, do smile at a stranger__do make a difference. Because, remember, you are what you do. If you worry, you will be worry. If you suffer, you will be the suffering. If you love, you will be the love. And if you deliver happiness, you will be happy!