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A Faith Lesson from Mother Teresa

Learning about living boldly in faith from a beggar for the poor.

Prayer blogger Rick Hamlin

Be outrageous. Pray outrageous.

That was the thought that went through my head last week at a 30th anniversary celebration for the relief organization AmeriCares. The founder, Bob Macauley, died not long ago, but the one time I met him I remember thinking he was the most outrageously generous person I’d ever known. A true beggar for the poor, he learned from the best.

Bob Macauley with Mother Teresa

Shortly after he’d started AmeriCares, he was on a TACA Airlines flight with Mother Teresa to Mexico City. Their lunches came and to his surprise he heard Mother Teresa ask the flight attendant, “How much does this meal cost?”

The woman shrugged. “I don’t know. About a dollar in U.S. currency.”

“If I give it back to you,” Mother said, “would you give me that dollar to give to the poor?”

The flight attendant seemed startled. She disappeared to consult with the pilot, came back and said, “Yes, Mother, you may have the money for the poor.”

Naturally Bob felt he should give up his lunch too. Soon the rest of the people on the plane did the same. Mother Teresa now had $129 to give to the poor. But that was not enough. Just as they were about to land she turned to Bob. “Get me the food,” she said. “What is the airline going to do with 129 lunches?”

Hat in hand, Bob went over to some officials on the tarmac and explained, “Mother would like to have the lunches too.” After some conferring the airline officials complied. But she needed one more thing.

“Get me the truck,” she asked Bob. Huh? he wondered. “I want the truck,” she repeated.

Bob soon found himself sitting in the passenger seat of a TACA Airlines truck with Mother Teresa behind the wheel. She was so short she had to peer between the steering wheel and the dashboard to see. She was a terrible driver but by God’s grace she managed to get them to a poor neighborhood of cardboard shanties
As they were handing out meals Bob wondered how she had done it. What could he learn about giving and asking? How would this help him at AmeriCares? What could any of us learn about living boldly in faith?

Her answer: “It’s easy to ask when you’re doing it for the poor.”

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