When Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she identified abortion as “the greatest destroyer of peace” in the world. This year she came to the United States to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom. While she was in the country, her Missionaries of Charity dedicated a home for unwed mothers in Washington, D.C. Mother Teresa also spoke at the National Right to Life convention. An abridged version of her comments follows.

A few weeks ago I had a very extraordinary experience of God’s tenderness toward his little ones. A man came to our house—with a prescription from a doctor—saying that his only child was dying in the slums of Calcutta. The medicine he needed could not be gotten in India anywhere. It had to be brought from England.

As we were talking, a man came with a basket of medicine.… Right at the top of his basket was the medicine the [other] man needed. I just couldn’t believe it. If it had been inside the basket, I would not have seen it. If he had come sooner or later, we would not have connected.

I just stood in front of that basket and kept looking at the bottle. And in my mind I was saying, “With millions and millions and millions of children in the world, how could God be concerned with that little child in the slums of Calcutta; to send that medicine with that man just at that time; to put that medicine right on the top and to send the full amount that the doctor had prescribed?” How precious that little one was to God himself.

God loved the world so much that he gave his son, Jesus. And Jesus came in the womb of his mother. She had vowed her life totally to God. So when the angel said to her, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” she said, “I don’t understand.” The Holy Spirit assured her, and she just said, very beautifully, “Be it done according to thy word.”

The moment Jesus came into her life, she went in haste to her cousin Elizabeth, for she heard that her cousin was with child. She went there just to do a handmaiden’s work, to serve. She never told anything to anybody. And yet that little unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb leaped with joy at the coming of Christ. Strange. A little unborn child was used to proclaim the coming of Christ.

Today that little unborn child has become the target of destruction. Each one, every little unborn child, is created in the image of God. It is created for some greater thing—to love and to be loved. That’s why abortion is such a terrible evil, a terrible destroyer of peace, love, unity, joy. While we are together, let us make one strong resolution. We will do everything in our power to preserve—not to destroy—life. Life is created in the image of God.

You and I must take the trouble to help the mother, whoever she may be, wherever she may be. Let us help her to want the child. And if she doesn’t want it, tell her Mother Teresa and her sisters want it. We are fighting abortion by adoption. When we bring a child into a family, there is so much love. I’ve seen again and again the greatness of love.

In one of our missions, a priest and his sister were taking final vows. The parents of these children had adopted them. You could see the shining joy of this father and mother, seeing their son become a priest and their daughter consecrating her life to the service of the poorest of the poor. She’s going to Poland to work for the poor there. So living, so real is God’s love in action. They could have been killed, destroyed [in the womb], but the joy of loving has brought from them something so beautiful.

If the love of Jesus is in your heart, naturally you will want to give that love to others. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Help the unwed mother to get a good home, help her to be loved, to be wanted, to feel that somebody wants her.

This prolife movement, or whatever you call it, must be spread everywhere, to every house, every human being, so that we realize that God loves us. Do not be afraid to love until it hurts, because Jesus has made it very clear: what you do to the least of your brethren you do to him. Jesus said, “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

Believe me, hunger is not only for a piece of bread. Hunger is for love, being wanted, being somebody to somebody. That’s why I’m in the world. We take a special vow to give wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor. And I think the little unborn child is the poorest of all children—the most unwanted, the most unloved, the most rejected.

Let us pray again and again that the tenderness of God and the love of God would penetrate our hearts, and that we may put that tender love for God into living action by helping the unborn child to come to be loved, to be wanted.

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