Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 5:1-8; Mark 9:41-50)
The Missionaries of Charity were founded by St. (Mother) Teresa of Kolkata to work with the marginalized. Peeking into one of their chapels, one notices a crucifix with the words, “I thirst” pasted at its side. The peeper will ask, “Why is that phrase there?” Of course, Jesus emits those words from the cross in the Gospel of John. But why do the Missionaries of Charity focus on them and not on more famous “last words” like “’Father, forgive them?”
The answer to these questions may be found in today’s gospel. Jesus is identifying with those who are in great need. They are Mark’s gospel’s equivalent to what he says at the end of Matthew’s: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.’” The Missionaries of Charity rightly see themselves as attending to the suffering Christ as they serve the marginalized. As St. Teresa said, they are “Christ in disguise.”
We see the marginalized on street corners begging for money. But these represent a small minority of their number. They inhabit hovels and rented rooms in most big cities. They live in vastly disproportionate numbers in Africa and South America. Like Jesus on the cross, they cry out for assistance. As we would have wanted to give Jesus a drink of water, we should move to help them.