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MOTHER TERESA: A SAINT LIKE NO OTHER

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November 2003
MOTHER TERESA: A SAINT LIKE NO OTHER

by MELVIN DURAI

Mother Teresa is on her way to sainthood, having been beatified by the Pope in a two-hour ceremony in Rome. It's just a formality, of course, because Mother Teresa became a saint many years ago, when she dedicated her life to serving "the poorest of the poor," whether they be lepers, invalids, or freelance writers.

She fed them and clothed them and bathed them, treating them like a mother treats her own children, except for the part where the mother shouts, "Shut up, kids. I'm trying to watch ?Law and Order.'"

Yes, she was something special, searching the streets for people to help, sacrificing herself for their every need. While Mother Teresa was beatified by the Pope, most of us would rather be beautified by the Pope. "Goodbye wrinkles," we'd like him to say. "Goodbye fat deposits. Goodbye ugly tattoos. Welcome back hair!"

While Mother Teresa has qualified for sainthood, many of us are still trying to qualify for manhood (and womanhood). We're so busy fighting and competing and trying to get ahead, we have no time for the less fortunate. "I'm willing to help the poor," we say to ourselves, "but first I need to help myself. Is the buffet open yet?"

While Mother Teresa spent her days in a white sari with blue stripes, many of us wear fancier outfits at night, when we're going to bed. Silk pajamas. Satin negligees. Designer underwear.

While Mother Teresa rescued people from the gutters of Calcutta, the only thing we've rescued from a gutter is a bowling ball. Even so, we're rather familiar with gutters, because we watch reality TV and as a result, our minds have been in them.

While Mother Teresa had compassion for the filthy and wretched, we find ourselves feeling sorry for the filthy rich ? celebrities with imperfect lives. Our hearts go out to Halle Berry (poor girl, can't find a good husband), George Clooney (poor guy, can't find a good wife) and Mike Tyson (poor guy, can't find a good psychiatrist).

While Mother Teresa said she saw God in every human being, what we tend to see are horns and a forked tongue. We're afraid to go near homeless people, because ? well, they're dangerous and might rob us. They don't have guns, it's true, but they often have something just as powerful: body odor. "Toss me your wallet, mister," they might scream. "Don't make me come closer!"

While Mother Teresa was eager to wash the back of a leper, many of us are eager to wash the back of a Lexus. As for washing grubby strangers, we might be willing to do that, but only if the fire station lets us borrow a hose.

And while Mother Teresa managed to touch millions of lives, many of us just want to touch millions of dollars. If we get rich, will we share our wealth with the poor? "Of course not," we scream. "Who do you think we are? Mother Teresa?"


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