Mother Teresa’s remark that the greatest disease in our modern world is the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and unloved, is often accompanied with a true and interesting story:
A gentleman passed by her as she was bent over a filthy and dying man she had found lying abandoned in the gutter.
Looking at the elderly lady who was embracing the poor and dirty man found in the gutter, the gentleman was so repulsed by the sight. He continued to watch in amazement as Mother Teresa tried to comfort the dying man making him lean on her chest and chasing away the flies off his body!
Then the gentleman exclaimed to the lady not knowing that she was the Saint of Calcutta: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Her response was both immediate and revealing: “Neither would I!”
Later on, when the gentleman learnt that he was talking to Mother Teresa, he got the deeper meaning of the short answer that he had taken for granted.
Mother Teresa was talking of differences in motivations. She too would not have done what she was doing for money. She was internally driven by love as a motivator to treat her patient suffering from love deficiency.
In her writings she looked at money as a very necessary means with which one can get so many things done. But she frequently affirmed the supremacy of the motivating power of love. And she quoted the Gospel of our fifth Sunday of Easter (Jn 13:31-35). She wrote, “Jesus said, ‘Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.’”
In her interpretation of the above words, she took love as an area in which man must grow by loving and giving until it hurts. And in her life it is that kind of love that motivated her as she did ordinary things with extraordinary love.
Those who watched her caring for the sick, the homeless, the lonely and the unwanted; washing and cleaning for them, noticed that she had a very special motivation in her style of doing whatever she did.
That is why when it comes to motivation; Mother Teresa still has a great lesson for our post modern society. Unless we are internally driven by love and passion in what we do, it is hard to excel in it.
Many psychologists would agree that Mother Teresa has a chapter to add on their findings; namely the motivating power of love.
Psychology defines motivation as the general term for the process of starting, directing, and maintaining physical and psychological activities.
It is a broad concept that embraces all the internal mechanisms involved in preferences for one activity over another, vigor of responses and persistence of organized patterns of action toward relevant goals.
Love as a motivation is so important because it does not depend entirely on outside stimulus as gains. Hence the subject, whose motivation is love and passion, can continue to perform consistently despite marked variations in stimulus conditions.
That is whether he or she is appreciated by observers, whether the gains are proportional, and whether the working conditions are favorable. The motivating power of love will get you to work in a way others might judge unintelligible.
It will get you to work even when you are exhausted and it will help you to persist even when you are losing and everybody else sees it.
We have an example of Jesus in this: because he was motivated by love for humankind, Jesus who is God the Omnipotent, allowed to be lifted up on the cross. When he died on the cross, those who had known his power and authority failed to make sense of it.
The lesson he wanted to leave behind is that his followers be lifted up and lift up one another in love. It is exactly this ‘lifting up’ which is Christian love that motivated Mother Teresa to give time and attentiveness to the filthy man found dying in the gutter and covered with flies.
It was so dirty a work that the gentleman would not do it for any amount of money. Mother Teresa too responded that she would not do it for money, but for love for the unloved.
Finally, there is no little significance in the fact that Jesus called this kind of love without limits, conditions, or prerequisites a ‘new’ commandment. Unfortunately, the increasing number of unloved people in this world and small number of those motivated by love would seem to suggest that the commandment is still new and yet to be affirmed.