The National Prayer Breakfast is an annual event that takes place on the first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C.
Each year, the breakfast is host to some of Washington’s most elite, including the President, First Lady, the United States Congress and some 3,500 other guests. One of those many guests is the event’s keynote speaker, who gives a presentation to those in attendance.
In 1994, that special guest speaker was non other than Mother Teresa.
She was invited to speak at the event by then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.
The Roman Catholic nun devoted her life to missionary work, serving those who were poor and “unseen” around the world. Being the humanitarian and woman of God that she was, Mother Teresa used her speech at the National Prayer Breakfast as an opportunity to discuss abortion—a topic I’m sure the nun found fitting for the mostly democratic and pro-choice audience before her.
“The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.” she explained.
Of course, there’s long been a debate in the political arena about whether or not abortion can be compared to murder. It often reminds me of the parable of the good samaritan.
A lawyer asks Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, to which Jesus responds with the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself.”
In an attempt to justify his actions, a lawyer asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The lawyer’s confident rebuttal makes me think of the way society tries to justify things like abortion. “And who is my neighbor?” sounds a lot like, “And what constitutes murder?”
Mother Teresa believes abortion is murder. But as she continues her speech, she makes it clear that abortion goes far beyond the killing of babies. It’s also a form of rejection—both physical and spiritual—that ultimately disrupts peace.
“Jesus said, ‘If you receive a little child, you receive me,’ so every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus, is the neglect of receiving Jesus.”
The rejection she references from Mark 9:37 is similar to that of the parable Jesus shares with the lawyer. Both the priest and the temple assistant saw the beaten man lying in the road, but they went out of their way to avoid him. The good samaritan had compassion, and went out of his way to care for the man.
Abortion allows us to walk around an unborn child—go out of our way to avoid them—and convince ourselves that we have no obligation to protect them. We can justify abortion like the lawyer justified his own actions, but you can’t change the fact that sin is sin; abortion is murder and rejection.
As Mother Teresa puts it, abortion is rejecting a child who is “God’s gift to the family.”
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want,” she continued, adding that it concerned her to see so many politicians often advocating for the injustices faced by children living in poverty, yet turning a blind eye to the injustice of abortion.
Mother Teresa says you can’t have love AND abortion, just like you can’t have sin AND eternal life with Jesus.
“Abortion leads to more abortion,” she says, and the ultimate solution to ending abortion is love.
“We [must] remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child.”
She added, “Fight abortion with adoption.”
Just like we have been adopted into God’s family, we have the ability to adopt babies into our earthly families as well, so that others may receive a child in Jesus’ name, and therefore, receive him.
Though Mother Teresa is with Jesus now, her words and message have never been more relevant to the political climate of our society today.
Though her speech was presented 20 years ago, the words Mother Teresa shared with the Clintons and Congress that day remain relevant to the current political climate of our country. Her words radiated Truth, and were rooted in her desire to see love prevail. We all know that Love has a name, and His name is Jesus.
Praying for our leaders and those in favor of abortion today—may they have the compassion of the good samaritan and “love their neighbor,” as Christ loves them.