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In the book of Isaiah, God speaks, “You, O Israel, are my servant through whom I show my glory.” That is a significant statement. What exactly is glory? It is a Hebrew word “kabod” which also means liver. What does the liver have to do with God? The liver is the heaviest organ in your body. God is invisible, so when God wants us to see Him, He has to gain a few pounds and add on some weight. God adds pounds when he lifts us up when we are “heavy burdened and suffering.” This is how it works. God rescued Israel when they were slaves in Egypt. Then he saved them when they were in the death zone of the desert. He gave them prime real estate with the richest gardens and foods supporting a great economy and ensuring the growth of the nation. Meanwhile, the other nations are looking at all of this thinking, “Your God really likes the Israelites. He lifts them up out of misery and suffering and gives them the finest gifts. Our gods do nothing for us. We should put our allegiance in the God of Israel.” And that is how Israel is the light of all the nations. The nations see God when God lifts up Israel from its lowly existence.
My mother fell and broke her leg. She needed to go to the nursing home for therapy a few weeks before Christmas. I went to visit her and she appeared discouraged and sad. So I asked the nurse if I could take her Christmas shopping. All I had to do was sign my mother out on her chart.
After I signed her out, I put my mother in the car and the wheelchair in the trunk. It was already snowing heavily when we started out. Of course, the traffic was reduced to a crawl. It took us one hour to get to the mall. When I finally got there I found out, to my horror, that Kohl was having a 50% off sale a week before Christmas. So I had to park in another zip code. I darted across the parking lot through the snowdrifts with the wheelchair. Once inside the mall, there were long crowds and long waits.
When I returned to the nursing home I thought to myself, “Well, that was a disaster, I had to put my poor mother through all of that agony?” Yet, when I took her back to her room she said to me, “Oh, Peter, thank you so much, I had such a good time.” Of course, she was happy. She was outside of the nursing home. I lifted up her spirits. That is when we are most like God, when we raise up others when they are down.
Let me ask this question. Why was Mother Teresa so special? Was it because she won the Noble Peace Prize? Maybe. Was it her honorary doctorate at Harvard? Possibly. Is it because she was the founder of one of the largest and most successful religious congregations in the twentieth century? I saw a picture of her that I believe was the moment of her greatest achievement. She was sitting in a dirty gutter in Calcutta, holding in her arms a boy who was obviously suffering from malnutrition. She was feeding him. This was her defining moment. Her greatest achievement, her finest hour. I thought about that picture. Her whole life prepared her for that moment. She gave up a career, a family, a house, and a car. She dedicated hours of prayer and it all brought her to this moment when she lifted up a suffering child. This boy will grow up forever knowing that he was in the arms of Mother Teresa. This was Mother Teresa’s greatest moment because this was the moment she was most like God. That is what it means when God said, “You are my servant through whom I am glorified.”Back to All Homilies