Dear Co-workers in Christ, we are here today to thank God for giving grace to Mr. Templeton to accept, to give of his best to be spent for the glory of God, to have accepted that vision, to appreciate the gift of God. And so today and now we thank God that he had the courage to give, to be spent for the glory of God, the wealth that he had received so generously from God.
In giving this award to me, actually it is given to the people, to all those who share with me throughout the world in the work of love, in spreading God’s love amongst men. Actually, we are touching His body, it is the hungry Christ that we are feeding, it is the naked Christ that we are clothing, it is the homeless Christ that we are giving shelter, and it is not only just hunger for bread, and nakedness for clothes, and homelessness for a house made of bricks, but Christ today is hungry in our poor people, and even in the rich, for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own. Today, like before, when Jesus comes among His own and His own don’t know Him, He comes in the broken bodies of our poor, He comes even in the rich who are being suffocated with their riches, in the loneliness of their hearts, and there is no one to love them.
And here Jesus comes to you and to me and very often, very, very often, we pass Him by. Here in England and other places, in Calcutta, in Melbourne, New York we find lonely people who are known by the number of their room. Where are we there? Do we really know that there are some people, maybe next door to us, maybe there is a blind man who would be happy if you would read the newspaper for him, maybe there is a rich person who has no one to visit him, he has plenty of other things, he is nearly drowned in that, but there is not that touch and he needs your touch. Some time back a very rich man came to our place and he told me, ‘Please, either you or some-body, come to my house. I am nearly half-blind and my wife is nearly mental; and our children have all gone abroad, and we are dying of loneliness, we are longing for the loving sound of a human voice’ — loving sound!
And in one of the places in Melbourne I visited an old man and nobody ever knew that he existed. And I saw his room in a terrible state, and I wanted to clean his house, his room, and he kept on saying ‘I’m all right!’ but I repeated the same word, ‘You will be more all right if you will allow me to clean your place’, and at the end he allowed me. And there in that room there was a beautiful lamp covered with dirt of many years, and I asked him ‘Why do you not light your lamp?’ Then I asked him, ‘Will you light the lamp if the Sisters come to see you?’ He said, ‘Yes, if I hear a human voice I will do it.’ And the other day he sent me word, ‘Tell my friend the light she has lit in my life is still burning.’
This is the people that we must know, this is Jesus yesterday, and today and tomorrow, and you and I, we must know’ who they are, that knowledge will lead us to love them and love to service. Let us not be satisfied with just giving money, money is not enough, money can be got, but they need, they need your hearts to love them. And with this award of spreading religion, to me and to you the religion of Christ is love, of spreading love everywhere you go: first of all in your own home, maybe your children, maybe your wife or husband, maybe a next-door neighbour, love begins at home.
Our Sisters are working now in many countries, facing many difficulties because of the people who are suffering so much, but there is something very beautiful in our poor people, they are so eager, they are so lovable, they are so delicate in their love, we have to know them, and we can know them only if we go to them.
Very often I ask people to come to our home for the dying — we have a big place in Calcutta and in the twenty-one years we have picked up over twenty-seven thousand people from the streets — and I ask the people not to come and to give things, things I can get for the asking. But I want their presence just to touch them, just to smile on them, just to be present there — it means such a lot to our people: some time for our lepers, for our crippled, for our unloved, uncared for children, it is the same need. They need love, that compassion, that touch, as the priest touches the Host during Mass and he touches of the body of Christ on the altar — it is that touch, with that love, with that faith, we have to touch the body of Christ in the poor. It is the same Jesus who meets Saul on the way to Damascus, who was on his way to disturb, to kill, to destroy the Christians, and He asks, ‘Saul, Saul why dost thou persecute Me?’ And Saul asks, ‘Who are thou Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus Christ thou persecutest.’
And today it is the same cry, the same cry, the same Jesus, the same today in our poor people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry and naked and homeless. They are useless, so to say, to society and nobody has time for them, and it is you and I as Christians, burdened with that love of Christ if our love is true, we must find them, we must help them, we must bring them to Him. They are there for the finding and here in this city, great city of London, there is so much, so much that you and I can do. The first time I was here in London and we went out at night it was a terrible cold night and I found the people on the street. And there was an old man, a well-spoken man, shivering with cold. And this gentleman would say, ‘Take me, take me anywhere. I am longing to sleep be-tween two sheets.’ He was a well-spoken man, he must have had better days and yet there he was.
And if we look round we will see many, not as many as in Calcutta, not as many maybe as in other places, but here there are many. Even if it is one, he is Jesus, he is the one that is hungry for love, for care, and as it is written in the scripture, ‘I looked for one to care for me and I didn’t find one.’ How terrible it would be if Jesus had to say that to us today, after dying for us on the cross.