SOURCE AND SUMMIT
Have you ever heard the account of St. Teresa of Calcutta, the war in Lebanon, and the rescue of 60 children after a miraculous ceasefire? I want to start this breath-taking story with the Source of Mother Teresa’s supernatural faith and amazing trust in God’s providence. Her work was miraculously fruitful and contagious. Where did she get her motivation and courage? Where did she come by these spiritual “superpowers?” She drew her graces from Jesus by spending vast amounts of time with him; Jesus himself, really present in the Eucharist.
In the summer of 1982 the Israeli army under command of Ariel Sharon, encircled West Beirut in an attempt to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organization which was trying to control the region. There were hundreds of civilian deaths, essential supplies were cut off, and widespread power outages. The Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa had been in Lebanon since 1979; they had just over a dozen nuns serving the people of Beirut and northern Lebanon. A desperate call went out to Mother Teresa because of an orphanage of mentally handicapped Muslim children that had been abandoned when their staff that survived had fled. It was just a terrible situation.
Mother Teresa flew into a nearby airport and met with officials and aid workers to find a way to get to those children. She said, “We must go and take the children one by one. Risking our lives is in the order of things. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.” The men gathered there with her were stunned. “But do you hear the bombs?…It is absolutely impossible to cross at the moment; we must obtain a cease-fire!”
Drawing from the Source, Mother Teresa confidently reported that she had asked Our Lady in prayer for a cease-fire the next day, which was August 14, the Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption. The Ambassador from the United States, Philip Habib, was among those gathered for this meeting. He was working diligently to negotiate a cease-fire. He promised “If we get a cease-fire, I personally will ensure that arrangements are made for you to go to West Beirut tomorrow.”
Miraculously, the cease-fire negotiated by Habib fell into place overnight! An unreal calm fell upon Beirut. Vehicles from the Lebanese Red Cross and other aid organizations headed off with Mother Teresa to the Islamic orphanage. One by one the totally feeble children that had survived were carried out. The children were taken to a Missionary of Charity house in a Christian suburb of Beirut.
“Everything was magical, miraculous with Mother Teresa,” said Amal Makarem, who witnessed the evacuation. “She was a true force of nature. I cannot describe the children she rescued. …She held them in her arms and the children bloomed in a split second.”
Toward the end of August, a definitive cease-fire was signed, and the PLO left Beirut.
The source of Mother Teresa’s spiritual zeal and fortitude is the same Person as our ultimate destination, the summit of our human experience: Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. Through the Eucharist Jesus has devised a way to be present to his people all around the globe, simultaneously, in a real (but somewhat hidden) way. Catholic author and speaker Vinny Flynn writes: “To grow spiritually you must adore! The Eucharist calls us to a personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, and that can’t happen if all you do is receive Him in Communion once a week, or even once a day. Building a relationship with another takes time.”
“Communicating with Christ”, Pope Benedict XVI explains, “demands that we gaze on him, allow him to gaze on us, listen to him, get to know him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion… God is waiting for us in Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us not leave him waiting in vain! Let us not, through distraction and lethargy, pass by the greatest and most important thing life offers us.”