The Gift of a Smile

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saint Mother Teresa’s Feast Day is on September 5.

Famous for her work with the destitute, Mother Teresa could also be known as the apostle of the smile. If one of her sisters could not smile, Mother Teresa preferred that she remain in community home instead of going out to serve the poor on the streets of Calcutta.

One personally grumpy day, nothing seemed to be working out for me. The coffee wasn’t hot at breakfast, I had failed a public speaking class, and I’m sure there were other things that made it even more grumpy. A fellow seminary crossed my path and he smiled at me. Nothing more, no words, just a smile. It changed my day.

The bad day is a human experience. Mother Teresa herself must have had bad days. She set the example, not just for her sisters but for us. She smiled through it all.

Mother Teresa exemplifies that the smile and suffering are not incompatible. The experience of sadness does not have to dappen the wideness of the smile. We can both suffer and smile. We can smile in the face of suffering. Mother Teresa knew that her life was a gift that was meant to be offered back to God.

For Mother Teresa her purpose in life does not end with a bad day because Christ’s day does not end with a bad day. I once asked some high school students if Jesus was happy on the cross. Their response was no He was not. How could He be?

I cannot tell you whether He was necessarily smiling. But He was not unhappy. He knew why He was there. He never lost sight of His purpose – glorifying the Father and loving us out of sin.

Not many of us could have a worse day than Good Friday.

St. Mother Teresa, pray for us. Help us to smile.


Father Joshua West, LC
Board Member & Priest at Catholic World Mission | + posts

Father Joshua is the chaplain for NC State University and a priest with the Legionaries of Christ. Father Joshua resides in Raleigh, NC.