'Mother Teresa understood the Gospel of love with every fibre of her indomitable spirit and every ounce of energy of her frail body'
Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state and the Pope's representative at Mother Teresa's funeral, delivered a moving homily at the ceremony.
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, distinguished authorities
from India and around the world, bereaved Missionaries of Charity,
The hour has come for us to say a final farewell to the late
Mother Teresa. We have come here from many corners of the world
to demonstrate our affection and gratitude and render a fitting
homage. From the cold bier, the unforgettable, dear Mother continues
to speak to us and seems to repeat the Lord's words; 'It
is more blessed to give than to receive.'
Herein lies the Gospel, the evangelical message of God's love
for us, his creatures, and of our love for him -- a love which
demands to be made real and effective in our deals with one another.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta understood fully the Gospel of love.
She understood it with every fibre of her indomitable spirit and
every ounce of energy of her frail body.
She practiced it with her whole heart and through the daily toil
of her hands. Crossing the frontiers of religious, cultural and
ethnic differences, she has taught the world this necessary and
salutary lesson: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
At the close of a century which has known terrible extremes of
darkness, the light of conscience has not been altogether extinguished.
Holiness, goodness, kindness, love are still recognised when they
appear on history's stage. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II has
given voice to what so many people of every condition have seen
in this woman of unshakable faith: her extraordinary spiritual
vision, her attentive and self-sacrificing love of God in each
person she met, her absolute respect for the value of every human
life and her courage in facing so many challenges.
His Holiness who knew Mother Teresa so well wishes this funeral
ceremony to be a great prayer of gratitude to God for having given
her to the Church and to the world.
The story of Mother Teresa's life is no more humanitarian exploit,
as she would be the first to declare. It is a story of Biblical
faith. It can only be explained as a proclamation of Jesus Christ
by -- in her own words -- 'loving and serving him in the distressing
disguise of the poorest of the poor, both materially and spiritually,
recognising in them and restoring to them the image and likeness
It has been said that Mother Teresa might have done more to fight
the causes of poverty in the world. Mother Teresa was aware of
this criticism. She would shrug as if saying: 'While you go on
discussing causes and explanations and theories; they need love.
The hungry can not wait for the rest of the world to come up with
the perfect answer; They need effective solidarity. The dying,
the handicapped and the defenceless unborn, who are without a
constituency in the utopian ideologies which especially in the
last two hundred years, have been trying to model the perfect
world, need a loving human presence and a caring hand.'
The spiritual legacy which Mother Teresa leaves us is all contained
in those words of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Mathew: 'Truly,
I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers
and sisters, you did it to me.' In silence and contemplation,
in prayerful adoration before the Tabernacle, she learned to see
the true face of God in every suffering human being. In prayer
she discovered the essential truth which underlies the Church's
social teaching and her religious and humanitarian work in every
age and in every part of the world.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta lit a flame of love which her spiritual
daughters and sons, the Missionaries of Charity, must now carry
forward. The world badly needs the light and warmth of that flame.
The homage we are paying to the memory of this humble woman religious,
whose great love for Indian and for this city of Calcutta did
not make her less a citizen of the world, will be in vain if we
do not take where she left off. The poor are still with us. And
because they are the reflection of the Crucified Son of God, they
must be at the very heart of our personal concern, of political
action, of religious commitment.
Speaking at the Angelus prayer on Sunday last, the Holy Father
recalled these words of Mother Teresa; 'The fruit of prayer is
faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service
and the fruit of service is peace.'
Let us begin to change the world for the better by turning in
humble prayer to God, the Creator of all that exists. Let us be
renewed in faith. Let our hearts be renewed with genuine love.
Let each one personally do something useful and demanding for
those in need. Only when we learn to see others, no matter how
different and removed from us, as our beloved brothers and sisters,
will humanity learn the ways of peace. Then truly we will have
done 'something beautiful of God.'
As we commend our sister to her heavenly reward, may all who have
admired this extraordinary woman strive to learn the compelling
lesson which she has given the world. A lesson which is also the
path of our human happiness' 'It is more blessed to given than
Dear Mother Teresa, the consoling dogma of the communion of Saints
allows us to feel ever close to you. The entire Church thanks
you for your luminous example and promises to make it our heritage.
Today on behalf of Pope John Paul II, who sent me here, I offer
you a final earthly farewell and in his name I thank you for all
that you have done for the poor of the world. They are the favourites
of Jesus. They are also the favourites of our Holy Father, His
Vicar on earth. It is in his name that I place on your coffin
the jewel of our deepest gratitude.
Dear Mother Teresa, rest in peace.