A challenge from Richard Rohr’s meditation today: Why is it that Mother Teresa could stand up before crowds of thousands and repeat simple New Testament phrases and seemingly pious clichés, and still blow people away?!
She didn’t say anything new: “Jesus loves you,” she assured us. “We’re all sons and daughters of God, and we have to love Jesus’ poor.” Yet people walked out renewed, transformed, and converted.
She wasn’t a priest or minister. She wasn’t well educated. Her authority came from her lifestyle, her solidarity with human suffering, and thus her pure goodness.
Loving servanthood and foundational surrender are the true basis for teaching authority in the Church, much more than title, vestment, role, or office. Such lives have the living authority of Jesus himself, and need no special ordination or public validation. Jesus says to Simon Peter that he, and we ourselves, must first “be sifted like wheat,” and only then are we in a position “to recover and in turn strengthen others” (Luke 22:31-32). Such undergoing is the seminary that finally matters and that changes others’ lives. It was Jesus’ essential and first “recovery program.”