Reflection on a Mother Theresa prayer

Mother Theresa of Calcutta:

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve your children throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, through your hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.

The opening words, “Make us worthy to serve” stick out to me.

It seems to that in order to be worthy to serve the poor I need to have a relationship with the poor. I think the voice of loved ones is more “worthy” than the voice of a stranger because I have a relationship with them. I understand that in order to be worthy to serve someone I must be in relationship with them.

But how do I get in relationship with someone? I spend time with them.

I spend time with them to become worthy and in becoming worthy I am able to serve others. And the more I serve the more time I send with others and the more time I spend with others the more the relationship becomes worthy.

It is a paradox.

I think it is a chicken and egg paradox, what comes first the relationship or worthiness?

Just because we have we think we have an obligation to serve others. This does not mean that we are worthy of service. Otherwise the prayer would say something like, “Allow us to serve your children” and not “Make us worthy”.

In America when you graduate you are not given a job as you walk across the stage.

A job is something you have to earn. You build a resume, gain experience, and solicit references all in an attempt to prove you are worth to gain employment.

Just because you and I have fish on our bumpers, crosses around our necks and give an hour of worship on Sunday doesn’t mean we are worthy to serve the poor.

Christianity is built on paradox. God said to Moses, I am what I am or I will be what I will be. Jesus said faith as a mustard seed can move mountains. Jesus also said, gain your life and loose it, loose you life and gain it. Paradox runs throughout our faith and it is dominate in this prayer.

How do you and I become worthy of serving the poor? The next line says it – we go and work with the poor.

Only in working with the poor do we become worthy enough to work with the poor.

It is a paradox. What comes first?

We do not sit and wait for a divine moment which confers on us the privilege to work with the poor. We are worthy only in serving, and we serve to gain worthiness.


The question that has stayed with me is, “Are we worthy to serve the poor?”