Mother Teresa felt the bitter sting of rejection.












Mother Teresa  (1910-1997)

     In 1948 Mother Teresa stepped from the convent where she had taught for many years onto the streets of Calcutta, the first of the Missionaries of Charity. She had vowed to help the poorest of the poor. She was very poor herself and often had to beg. Begging was so hard. One priest - surely he thought she disgraced the church - had bristled when she asked him for money. His eyes narrowed in that deep disgust reserved for beggars. His voice snarled revulsion. His hands knotted into angry fists. After that day, she could not walk down that street where the priest had repulsed her without feeling a bitter sting.
     But she had greater challenges. She had to help the poorest of the poor. On December 21 she rounded up five slum urchins by a mud hole to begin a school. She also had to attract ten recruits to her new order within one year. The Archbishop had asked her to keep a journal. Her first entries were perky:
          I believe some are saying what (is the) use of working among
          this lowest of the low…(but) surely the lowest of the low can
          have the love and devotion of us few - 'the Slum Sister' they call
          me, and I am glad to be just that for His love and glory…
     But progress was very slow and she attracted no recruits:
          I am afraid...our Lord just wants me to be a 'Free Nun', covered
          with the poverty of the Cross. But today I learned a good lesson -
          the poverty of the poor must be often so hard for them. When I
          went around looking for a home, I walked and walked till my legs
          and arms ached. I thought how they must also ache in body and
          soul looking for home, food, help.  Then the temptation grew
          strong. The palace buildings of Loreto came rushing into my mind.
          All the beautiful things and comforts - in a word everything.
          'You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again,'
          the tempter kept on saying…This is the dark night of the birth of
          the Society. My God give me courage now, this moment, to
          persevere in following your Will.
     After many weeks she had not attracted one novice. Failure loomed:
          Today, my God, what tortures of loneliness. I wonder how long
          my heart will suffer this. Tears rolled and rolled.  Everyone sees
          my weakness…
     She knew the saints - not that she was a saint - suffered many failures. No one escaped suffering. Or death. But would her tiny infant of an order die so soon?

[source:
Mother Teresa by Navin Chawla, 1992]

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Years later Mother Teresa would take the fisted hand of a novice involved in some very unpleasant duty and she would unfold the fingers one by one to the words of Jesus: You-do-this-for-Me!






















John Wesley's relationship with Beata Hawkins was a metaphor for his two-year American experience. His stern disapproval of her behavior resulted in a private meeting. She greeted him in her home, strangely holding both hands behind her back.
     "Sir, you have wronged me," she seethed.
     One hand swung around pointing a pistol!
     Wesley deftly grabbed the arm. Her other hand swung around, clutching a pair of scissors. She thrust the scissors at him. He intercepted that arm. As he held her arms, Beata Hawkins tore at him with her teeth. Servants saw what was happening and ran out of the house, screaming. By the time a constable came to the house to subdue Beata Hawkins she had ripped the sleeves off Wesley's clerical cassock with her teeth! After Beata Hawkins was taken into custody the constable examined the pistol. He noticed Wesley's questioning look.
     "Yes, sir, the pistol is loaded," the constable said.
     Sickened, the tattered Wesley trudged off.













John Wesley (1703-1791)

     John Wesley was 34 when he sailed back to England from America in late 1737. His two years there in the colony of Georgia had ended in catastrophe. His erratic romantic interest in Sophy Hopkey and finally his vindictive behavior toward her had offended her uncle, a magistrate. The magistrate had ordered his arrest. John - an ordained Anglican minister - had fled. The sea voyage would take nearly two months. John had plenty of time to reflect and brood. Not the least of his worries was how he would be greeted in England. Was he to be a fugitive? Or merely a foolish wretch unwelcome in every respectable household? And he still brooded over the loss of Sophy Hopkey, a loss that he could have prevented. But the worst development was the state of his faith.
 
     By January 8, 1738, he wrote:
          By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced:
               1. Of unbelief, having no such faith in Jesus Christ as will prevent my heart from being
                    troubled; which it could not be, if I believed in God and rightly believed also in Him.
               2. Of pride…inasmuch I thought I had what I find I have not.
               3. Of (spiritual negligence)…in as much in a storm I cried to God every moment;
                   in a calm, not.
              4. Of levity and luxuriancy of spirit, recurring whenever the pressure is taken off.
     Then on the 13th of January the ship was battered by a storm. Once again John was tested by the specter of death.

   Once again he failed. He wrote:
     I went to America to convert the Indians; but O! who shall convert me? Who, what is he
     that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer of religion. I
     can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in
     the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, 'To die is gain!...in a storm I think,
     'What if the Gospel be not true?'… 
   John had nearly two months on board to regain his faith. But with England in sight he wrote:
       It is now almost two years and almost four months since I left my native country,
       in order to teach the Georgia Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I
       learned in the meantime? Why, what I least of all suspected, that I, who went to
       America to convert others, was never myself converted to God.
     What greater failure could an ordained minister suffer than that?

[sources:
Strange Fires by Willie Snow Ethridge, 1971, and The Journal of the
Reverend John Wesley
, 8 Vols., edited by Nehemiah Curnock, 1938]

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