Editor's note: "The Spoken Word" is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly <a href="https://mormontabernaclechoir.org/" target="blank">Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast._
Mother Teresa possessed a degree of goodness that's rare in society today. Her acts of compassion began in 1948 in India, but her heart was too big to be confined to one place for long. Eventually her service reached around the world to more than 100 countries, transcending religious and political lines. She, and the thousands she inspired to work at her side, gave comfort to those who were forgotten or set aside — the tattered, diseased, crippled, orphaned, aged, homeless and hungry. She embraced and loved them with encouragement, tenderness and compassion. Truly, no better title describes her life and work than "Mother."
For her work she received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. When asked what can be done to promote world peace, she answered, "Go home and love your family" (see Tejvan Pettinger's "Biography of Mother Teresa"). Mother Teresa clearly knew what it meant to be a mother.
At her death in 1997, India gave her a state funeral befitting royalty. Her funeral procession wound through the slums of Calcutta, which she called home. Hundreds of thousands thronged the streets, 15,000 filled an indoor arena for the funeral services and millions more watched on television, according to CNN World News.
It was fitting, considering the breadth of Mother Teresa's worldwide influence. But the crowds of dignitaries, the processions and ceremonies, belied the simplicity of her service. Mother Teresa was never about show or celebrity. "Never worry about numbers," she said. "Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you" (see "Mother Teresa of Calcutta — Quotes and Stories"). Like a true mother, she believed in the value of simple gestures, of being kind and honoring the dignity of each individual. These are things every one of us can do. It doesn't take a worldwide initiative to make a difference in someone's life. This invitation is a good summary of Mother Teresa's life and her example: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love" (see Pettinger).