Mother Teresa and simple acts of kindness and love

Mother Teresa of Calcutta could be called “the Saint of Divine Mercy,” although interestingly, she did not use the word “mercy.”

We often associate “mercy” with forgiveness for sins or offences, as when we plead, “Lord, have mercy on us” or when we say that someone “put himself as the mercy of the court.”

For Mother Teresa, God was always simply reaching out, not just in our failings.

And she did not see herself as “doing great things.” Indeed, one of her favorite sayings was “There are no great things, only small things with great love.” And there’s where one will find happiness.

She did not pursue the proverbial “search for the cure for cancer” or set up a great surgical center. She and her Sisters simply cared for the sick who no one else attended in the poorest neighborhoods.

There’s a story – whether true or not, it sounds like something she would do – that a wealthy admirer of her work installed a row of washers and dryers to assist her Sisters in attending to the sick and dying. Mother Teresa supposedly had those machines removed, insisting that no one else in the neighborhood where they lived and worked had washers and dryers.

Virtue, for her, was just doing simple things, not accomplishing more.

Tradition has categorized charitable acts “Spiritual Works of Mercy” and “Temporal Works of Mercy.” Mother Teresa, who did not write theological explanations, simply called these “acts of love” and summarized them by telling the world to look at the needs of others and do everything possible to meet those needs.

In short, do “small things with great love” and that will change the world.

She certainly did.