“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).

Mother Teresa presented this challenge: “All of us, you and I, should use what God has given us, that for which God created us. For God has created us for great things: to love and to give love.” What makes things great? Mother Teresa says, “It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.” Billy Graham visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta. When he was introduced to her, she was holding a dying man in her arms, and Graham waited as she helped the man face death. When he died, she prayed and gently lowered him to his bed. Then “this tiny, wrinkled, radiant lady” turned to greet Graham. They talked till dusk, and here is how Billy Graham says she explained her calling: “Mother Teresa looks past the physical features of every man, woman or child and sees the face of Jesus staring up at her through them. In every starving child she feeds, she sees Jesus. Surrounding every lonely, dying man she cradles in her arms is Jesus. When she ministers to anyone she is ministering to her Savior and Lord.” Mother Teresa often referred to the poor and dying as being Jesus in “distressing disguise.” She saw being abandoned and unwanted as the greatest poverty, and she daily ministered to people with love as if each were Jesus in distress.

Most of us will never pick up dying men or starving children from the streets, yet we must deal with the “irritable, the exacting, and the unreasonable” in our own lives. Mother Teresa demonstrated that it’s a unique privilege to get beyond our frustrations and to share the joy and love of Jesus. Impossible? “Love is a fruit,” she says, “in season at all times and within the reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it, and no limit is set.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement