*Alternate* First Reading: Excerpt from No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

A reading from No Greater Love by Mother Teresa.

Poverty doesn’t only consist of being hungry for bread, but rather it is a tremendous hunger for human dignity. We need to love and to be somebody for someone else.  This is where we make our mistake and shove people aside. Not only have we denied the poor a piece of bread, but by thinking that they have no worth and leaving them abandoned in the streets, we have denied them the human dignity that is rightfully theirs as children of God.

The world today is hungry not only for bread but hungry for love, hungry to be wanted, to be loved.  They’re hungry to feel the presence of Christ.  In many countries, people have everything except that presence, that understanding.

In every country there are poor. On certain continents poverty is more spiritual than material, a poverty that consists of loneliness, discouragement, and the lack of meaning in life. I have also seen in Europe and America very poor people sleeping on newspapers or rags in the streets. There are those kind of poor in London, Madrid, and Rome.  It is too easy simply to talk or concern ourselves with the poor who are far away.  It is much harder and perhaps more challenging to turn our attention and concern toward the poor who live right next door to us.

When I pick up a hungry person from the streets, I give him rice and bread, and I have satisfied that hunger.  But a person who is shut out, feels unwanted by society, unloved and terrified – how much more difficult is it to remove that hunger?

You in the West have the spiritually poorest of the poor much more than you have the physically poor.  Often among the rich are very spiritually poor people.  I find it is easy to give a plate of rice to a hungry person, to furnish a bed to a person who has no bed, but to console or to remove the bitterness, anger and loneliness that comes from being spiritually deprived, that takes a long time.

The words of Mother Theresa