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  • Sarah Raad

Dollar

She saw the face of Christ inside the face of that dying man and she saw it there for FREE... I would not exchange eternity for a timely dollar.

You are not Alone (Laur Iduc)

I recently heard a story about Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta that has stayed in my mind.


Saint Mother Teresa was known for ministering to the poorest of the poor, particularly in the slums of India. As the message of her work spread, Mother Teresa was often interviewed for television programs or magazine articles, because people were truly fascinated by her work and her decision to deal with the – frankly disgusting – reality of serving the poor. It is one thing – after all – to imagine the poverty of an Indian slum or leprosy colony after watching it on television, it is quite another to smell it with your nose, and feel it with your skin… It is quite another thing to brush right up against that poverty – so to speak…


One group of people who Mother Teresa worked with most extensively were the lepers in India. In the final stages of the disease, leprosy can be quite a confronting disease. The wounds caused by the disease smell terrible and are very difficult to look at. And because of the nature of the disease and the general fear of it, the person who is infected with leprosy suffers very badly throughout the disease, but most particularly during the final stages of the disease from physical pain and also from the isolation caused by the revulsion of others.


Once, when Mother Teresa was being interviewed by a journalist for a television programme, she was asked to record a segment to be used in the interview, which would show her doing her daily work. And so it was that the camera crew and journalist followed the Saint around for a day and recorded her work. Among the various tasks to which she attended that day, Saint Mother Teresa tended to a man with advanced leprosy. That meant that she washed him (and many others like him) with her own two hands and she did so with a smile and with genuine affection, treating him as a human and with dignity.

The journalist who was watching this display could not restrain herself and finally, feeling completely overwhelmed by what was clearly a terribly confronting disease, she cried out utterly repulsed, “I wouldn't do that for a million dollars!” Mother Teresa did not bat an eyelid, she simply looked back with a smile and said, “Neither would I!”

And I have been reflecting on that conversation since hearing that story, because there is something so profound to be had in this exchange.


You see, I spend most of my life chasing dollars. This is not to say that I am more greedy than the next person, but it is true that I go to work to earn money for my family and at times, it appears that my work is all consuming – it definitely consumes a great deal of my time!


And yet, three words uttered by this Saint shifted something inside my mind – for she saw the face of Christ inside the face of that dying man and she saw it there for FREE...


You see, in a world that values dollars, it suddenly occurred to me how little mere dollars profit me. This is not to say that I am going to give away all my wealth, or to stop working indefinitely. Bills still need to be paid and children still need to be fed, and my vocation as a mother demands that I do my duty in this regard… But, what these three little words have caused me to realise is that I would not exchange eternity for a timely dollar. Not at all. And neither would anyone else – not if they gave it a moment’s thought…


And that is what I plan to do right now – think – about the dollar… Because it somehow seems much less meaningful now…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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