Mother Teresa is well-known throughout the world for her humanitarian work — she aided poor people no matter their illness, religion or culture. Born in 1910 in Yugoslavia, she lived most of her life in India, then passed on in 1997. Mother Teresa was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, and posthumously, Pope Francis officially declared her as a saint in 2016.
Mother Teresa helped people so poor and ill that most others avoided them. She created rehabilitation homes for lepers, and rescued homeless people dying in the streets and gave them hospice shelter and love during their deaths.
While Mother Teresa helped anyone in need regardless of their condition, religion or culture, and her strong devotion to Jesus Christ motivated her work. She once said, “The work is only a means to put our love for Christ into action… to work for the poorest of the poor. So, my vocation was a continuation of belonging to Christ and being only His.” The following are five of Mother Teresa’s most inspiring quotes surrounding the issue of poverty.
5 of Mother Teresa’s Most Inspiring Quotes Regarding Poverty:
- During her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1979, she said: “I never forget a little child who taught me a very beautiful lesson. They heard in Calcutta, the children, that Mother Teresa has no sugar for her children; and this little one, Hindu boy four years old, he went home and he told his parents: ‘I will not eat sugar for three days; I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa.’ How much a little child can give. After three days they brought into our house, and there was this little one who could scarcely pronounce my name. He loved with great love; he loved until it hurt. And this is what I bring before you – to love one another until it hurts. But don’t forget that there are many children, many children, many men and women who haven’t got what you have. And remember to love them until it hurts… I can enjoy this, but I give up; I could eat that sugar, but I give that sugar… you would be surprised of the beautiful things that people do to share the joy of giving.”
- “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
- “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”
- During a speech in 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., she said, “I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them – maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything – good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?” I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones’ smile. And Sister said: ‘This is the way it is nearly every day. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.’ And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty… When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society – that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome.”
- “There’s two kinds of poverty. We have the poverty of material; for example, in some places like in India, Ethiopia and other places, where the people are hungry for a loaf of bread – real hunger. But there is a much deeper, much greater hunger; and that is the hunger for love, and that terrible loneliness and being unwanted, unloved – being abandoned by everybody.”
A Light in the Dark
From providing makeshift recovery shelters and friendly hospices for sick homeless folk, to giving food to the hungry and friendship to the lonely or shunned, Mother Teresa was a kind light and safety-zone to thousands of poor people from all walks and creeds of life. Her body may have passed from this world, but Mother Teresa’s most inspiring quotes live on, influencing others to follow her example.
– Emme Leigh