close call

After a couple days of wild rumors, the truth finally came out, and not to a few relieved exhales from devoted Christians: Paris Hilton will not be playing Mother Teresa in an upcoming feature film. Filmmaker T. Rajeevnath allegedly told reporters that he was speaking with the racy hotel heiress about playing the part because of her resemblance to a young Teresa of Calcutta. Miss Hilton denied any such plans to play the part, as reported in the Malaysia Star on Monday.

Seriously, folks…this is not a joke.

But now that we can all breath a collective sigh of relief, I am perplexed how this was ever thought to be a plausible option. How could one possibly see the deeply spiritual person of Teresa in an actress with about as much depth as the Gobi Desert. Facial features aside, this casting decision would have been disastrous. But alas, it didn’t go down (or at least, it would be the biggest flip-flop since John Kerry if it does…).

I’ve been thinking about Mother Teresa a lot lately, mostly because Shane Claiborne mentions her a lot in his book The Irresistible Revolution (he did a summer internship with Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. (I’ll plug this book a lot in the coming months, so get used to it — go buy it and read it.)

I’ve been thinking about Teresa’s life, which took the life and words of Jesus at face value (as few humans have done in the modern era). She owned nothing. She poured herself out for the least loved people on the planet. She embodied and proclaimed Christ. She said some profound things about the cost of discipleship that are frankly pretty offensive to most American Christians. Maybe that’s why we don’t hear her quoted in Church on Sundays very often.

But let’s hear this prophetess afresh today as we consider what following Jesus really means (I have no idea) and how Christ-followers live in this temporal world:

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”

“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I don’t know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will NOT ask, How many good things have you done in your life?, rather he will ask, How much LOVE did you put into what you did?”

“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.”

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”

“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.”

“Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.”

“Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”

“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in – that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.”

“There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.”

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”

“Jesus is everything.”

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