Music and the Spoken Word: What a story from Mother Teresa’s life teaches about the true spirit of Christmas

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Dec. 9, 2018.

This season of special holidays is all about giving. Young children are often most excited about what they might receive, but over time, we discover that real joy comes from giving — especially when we give with no thought of receiving anything in return. In fact, it might be said that such giving is the source of true happiness and captures the real spirit of the Christmas season.

The saintly Mother Teresa told a story of that kind of giving. One day, she learned of a family of eight children who had not eaten for days. In the book "No Greater Love," she said: "I took some food with me and went (to them). When I came to that family, I saw the faces of those little children disfigured by hunger. … I gave the rice to the mother. She divided the rice in two, and went out, carrying half the rice. When she came back, I asked her, 'Where did you go?' She gave me this simple answer, 'To my neighbors; they are hungry also!'"

Shouldn't this be what Christmas inspires all of us to do — to notice the needs of others and give what help we can? After all, at this time of year we celebrate the birth of a child who became the ultimate example of giving. He gave everything he had, even his very life, in an act of amazing grace.

Our communities are full of generous, selfless people. Often they leave the comforts of home to help others, seeking no reward or recognition. Advocates for the homeless reach out to those who are in no position to offer anything in return. And who gives more with less intention of receiving than the self-sacrificing mothers and fathers who give so much for their families?

Some people believe that success is receiving more than you give. But those who give more — even if it means receiving less — have achieved a level of success that cannot be matched in any other way. What's more, they have discovered the true spirit of Christmas, for they are emulating the one whose birth we celebrate, the one who gave his life that we might live.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at