Insult has broken my heart, and I despair; I looked for compassion, but there was none, for comforters, but found none.
On the back of a holy card depicting Christ and bearing the words, “I looked for one that would comfort me and I found none,” Blessed Teresa of Calcutta wrote the words, “Be the one.”
Mother Teresa oriented her life toward being the one who answered the Lord’s call, a call from the Cross to satisfy his thirst, a thirst for all people to come to know and love him. “Be the one . . . be the one who will satiate the Thirst. Instead of saying ‘I Thirst’ say ‘be the one.’ . . . do whatever you believe God is asking you to do to be the one to satiate Him” (Come Be My Light, pp. 260-261).
We hear this same call to action in the words of Pope Francis today:
“Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium, 20).
Our call is to new ways of engagement and encounter, but not merely in a strategic or tactical sense, as important as those considerations are.
Our call to encounter others, to go forth and be the ones to satisfy his thirst in all settings, is a deeply personal one. We are being urged to step out of ourselves, to reach to uncomfortable lengths, to take great risks that we know only his grace can make fruitful. If we embrace this call, our lives should radically change!
We will then take the time to ask, in every moment and every encounter, “What do you want me to do, Lord?”
We will look into the eyes of the person who comes up to us begging for money or food and be the ones to ask them their name, seeking true relationship and at least finding something about which we can pray for them.
We will seek healing in our own families and be the ones to end stubborn fights or admit our own failings first, so that we may live mercy and love in our own homes.
We will be the ones to give of ourselves to transform our parishes and communities into places where we seek to know and meet one another’s needs; rather than watch from the sidelines as our brothers and sisters struggle and suffer, we will make the Christian community what it is truly meant to be – a place where one is transformed and care for one another is always a risk worth taking.
We will be the ones to bring the teachings of our faith into our workplaces, friendships and into the public square, that others may know that our social structures can be just, at the service of the human person. We will see in the struggle of the worker, the plight of the immigrant, and those caught in a cycle of violence and imprisonment here and abroad, opportunities to be the ones to engage.
The splendor of this message impels us to a life away from lethargy. Every second of our existence can be a beautiful testament to God, and we must seize these moments as we do the very air we breathe. This very day, let us stop looking around to see if others are ready to act; instead, let us be the ones.
Mark Rohlena is the director of domestic social development in the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development.