essays
 
REFLECTIONS ON THE LIVES OF MOTHER TERESA
AND PRINCESS DIANA

During a relatively uneventful Summer in the year 1997, Princess Diana died in an automobile accident in Paris with her fiancé Dodi Al Fayed.  Within a week, Mother Teresa, died from natural causes in India.  Who could have guessed that two of the world's best known women would leave us within such a short time span?  First of all, let me say that I do not believe that this was anything but a coincidence so let's resist the temptation to try to find some deeper meaning behind these two events.  Because I don't think that these events were caused by God or some other force it does not mean that we cannot learn from them.  Often times much good can result from tragic events, for example, people who triumph over terrible illnesses and birth defects show the rest of us just how blessed we are and spur us on to even greater achievement.  It would seem that the lives of these two beloved women can teach us valuable lessons.  I would like to focus on one of those lessons now, namely, that no matter where you find yourself in life you can make a difference.

Mother Teresa and Princess Diana in New York It disturbs me when I hear people choosing which woman was good and which was bad.  I have heard both versions expressed as if they were choosing up sides for some competition.  Believe it or not there are people who think that Mother Teresa's life was wasted on meaningless service.  Conversely, many people think that because Princess Diana was wealthy it meant she had to be the bad one.  Why do we so often look for the black and the white when with just a little thought we can see the gray being closer to the truth.  It is precisely because it takes more thought to see the gray that many people opt for the ease of extremes.  Both of these women used their vastly different positions and talents to achieve a greater good.

Princess Diana lived in a world that few people will ever experience.  She had influence, wealth, power, fame, and the love and admiration of literally millions of people across the globe.  She was able to use her position in life to help others such as people dying of AIDS and leprosy victims in India.  Did she live a perfect life, by no means.  She did, however, do what God expects from us all--to do the best we can with what we have.

Mother Teresa lived in a world far removed from the opulence of royalty.  As I understand it, she took a vow of poverty and spent most of her life serving others and God in poverty stricken areas of India.  When she was asked why she did this she would say she had no choice in the matter for it was Godís wish.  The mere mention of her name is equated with selfless sacrifice and love.  She also vocally and unapologetically opposed the terrible practice of abortion.  Her position of standing up for what she believed was right and keeping politics out of it was as refeshing as it was noble.

As I reflected on the lives of these two women, I could not help but be reminded of two women from scripture that found themselves in similar positions in life.  The first was Esther and the second was the poor widow with the two copper coins.

Esther, like Diana, was chosen from the commoners to become royalty.  She was a Hebrew living in Babylon and because of her beauty she was to be Queen of the very nation that had conquered her people.  During this time a high official persuaded the King to order all the Hebrews to be killed so as to eliminate them completely.  Through Esther's position and influence she was able to save her people from annihilation and have the man responsible for the idea put to death.

In the Gospel of Luke in the 21st chapter we find:

1AND He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.  2And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins.  3And He said, ďTruly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.Ē1

Could there be a clearer example of doing the best with what you have than this?  This widow gave everything she had even though she had next to nothing.

So there you have it, Iíve compared Princess Diana to Esther and Mother Teresa to the widow with the copper coins.  Now I know that these comparisons are hardly one to one matches, but I think they do hold for the particular point of this essay.  All four of these women of God used their positions in this life to the best of their abilities to achieve a greater good for us all and to His glory.  Please consider this, if the richest and most famous of us can make a difference and the poorest most obscure can make a difference, what can you do to make a difference?

--Bugs  September 12, 1997

1 The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977

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