A few years ago I read a book of Mother Theresa’s private writings called: Come Be My Light. I was curious to know more about her and her work in Calcutta, India. She becomes a nun and then feels called to do more in India. She feels called to serve the poorest of the poor in the slums. She starts the Missionaries of Charity, which still exists today.
This particular book is famous because it reveals the true inner life of Mother Theresa. She didn’t feel the presence of God for years. She felt distant and far away from God. She felt this way as she ministered to the poor, the sick and the dying. People would visit her from all over the world and didn’t know that she felt emptiness inside. This book of her letters and private writings revealed all of this.
I remember reading this book with fascination and interest. I got to the part where Mother Theresa offers God everything. She and her spiritual adviser agree to this vow: That she will not refuse God anything. For a regular person, this is too lofty of a vow and unattainable. It is full of false pride. But Mother Theresa’s spiritual adviser knew her well and knew her heart. He knew that her level of commitment was much higher than the average faithful person. He allowed it.
I remember thinking, oh no-don’t pray that. That’s the wrong prayer to pray. Doesn’t she know what happens to Jesus? Doesn’t she know how he dies? She’s just setting herself up to suffer internally. She wants to be so close to God that she experiences his life as closely as possible. This is only going to end in pain and suffering. I could see it a mile away.
No wonder she suffered. No wonder she felt distant from God. She was experiencing Jesus’ pain in a spiritual way. She was experiencing all the pain and cruelty of Good Friday all the time. And she served the poorest of the poor while she felt distant from God.
This week is the week that we all experience and remember the pain of Maunday Thursday when Judas betrays Jesus. We remember the trials and questionings of Jesus in the middle of the night. We remember the beatings, the floggings, and the cruel death of Jesus on Good Friday. We remember the grief, the sense of loss and confusion of Holy Saturday. This is the week that we get close enough to Jesus to experience some of his pain. This is the week that we get to face the ugliness of humanity and our inner selves.
Walk slowly this week. Take time to remember the events. Take time to also remember God’s great grace and mercy and that God never gives up on us. Even at our worst.