“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Mother Teresa gives us this simple challenge: “See what love can do.” She tells of a day when she picked up a dying man from the gutter whose body was covered with worms. She brought him to her house, and it took three hours to clean him up. She was impressed that he didn’t curse or blame someone. Instead, he said, “I’ve lived like an animal in the street, but I’m going to die like an angel, loved and cared for. I’m going home to God.” Mother Teresa says she has never seen such a radiant smile as she saw on his face before he died. “He went home to God. See what love can do?”

She tells another story that illustrates something most of us could do for someone. She was walking down a street in London when she saw a tall, thin man sitting huddled and miserable. She went up to him, shook his hand, and asked him how he was. He looked up at her and said, “Oh! After such a long, long time, I feel the warmth of a human hand!” and she said he then sat up, with a beautiful smile. “Just shaking his hand had made him feel like somebody.”

Who needs the warmth of a human hand today? Whom do we ignore who desperately needs attention? Mother Teresa emphasizes that it’s the depth of our love that counts, not our carrying out grand things. We start in our own homes and with our neighbors. She urges us to be the “good news” to someone in our sphere of influence who does not feel loved—perhaps a family member or a disgruntled neighbor. “True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings joy,” she says. That is why we must pray to God and ask him to give us the courage to love. “We have been created in order to love and be loved.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement