Mother Teresa said, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely, right where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in homes and in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”
Mother Teresa served the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. She made a big change in a lot of people’s hearts. But you know what she didn’t do? She didn’t donate millions of dollars and watch from a distance as her wealth spread across the world. No, she didn’t make an impact on so many people’s livelihood by being disrespectful and standing against politicians. She changed the world by loving—and loving hard.
It’s easy to get caught up in doing big things nowadays. In our competitive society, bigger is better, and sometimes we forget the clear instructions we were given by Our Lord: to love. That means right here, right now. We must love. I know that it seems as though the impact will be bigger if you fly to Mexico to build homes for a few weeks, but the truth is that any change is a step toward the goal. What Mother Teresa is saying is that if you can do big things, surely you can do the seemingly small things and make a huge difference.
I’m sure each one of you has thought about what might happen if you were born somewhere else; if you had been born with different parents or in a different home; if you were born as a celebrity or a millionaire. But that’s the thing, you weren’t. You were born here, and you are at this very place for a purpose.
In order for us to find our Calcutta, our place to love, we have to realize that it is our responsibility to use each moment as our best opportunity to love. Because believe it or not, your Calcutta has probably already found you. It’s in the places that you are right now. It’s the dining hall tables, the conversations as you walk across campus, the few moments before class starts, the late nights in your hall lounge, or the essays that you write in your writing studies class.
The thing about a calling is that it is different for everyone—and that’s a truly lovely thing. You have been placed in the city you are in with the passions you have and the joys you carry. The experiences you have encountered and the gifts you have been given are all for a purpose: to love others like no one else can. Your Calcutta is every heart that you touch, it’s a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week business with no lunch breaks.
This mission to love each and every person we encounter is rooted in the hope and the belief that we will be helping them grow closer to God, even if they don’t know it. This is the most important thing. You don’t need to shove Jesus or Scripture down someone’s throat to show them God’s love for them. The most powerful movement is that of human encounter. The feeling of an individual caring for you or making an effort to understand you and help you is the ultimate service and the ultimate sign of love. Be an example of the way Christ loved and lived.
Remember, Mother Teresa didn’t become a saint by freeing a nation or by converting a country to Catholicism. Rather it was because she understood and loved the people whom she was assigned to by God. Remember that you are put where you are to be a saint. Be Saint Erika of Lebanon, or Saint Chase of Milwaukee, Saint Zach of Loveland, or Saint Christine of Nashville. Be the change and love the world.
Allow your heart to be filled with the holy spirit and look into the eyes of those who need loved. Be ready to fill spirits, to heal broken hearts, to help a voice be heard, or to aid someone in taking their first step. Don’t be afraid to do the ordinary, because to someone else it may be extraordinary. As “the saint of the gutters” said, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”