33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Solidarity - Week 3
November 16, 2014
Today we have the third homily in my series on Solidarity. So far, I have talked about two aspects of solidarity: prayer and financial resources. Today, I would like to focus on a third aspect: solidarity of talents. We all have God-given talents, and we are called to recognize and develop those talents. Some talents might include the ability to cook, draw, or play music. Some might have a talent for athletics or teaching, while others may have the gift of empathy. There are many, many gifts. Each of us has gifts, strengths, and capacities. God gave them to us, and he expects us to use those gifts for his glory and for the good of others.
In the Gospel Jesus tells the story of a person who, out of fear, buries his talent. He calls him “lazy” and takes away his talent. Perhaps this is where the phrase “use it or lose it” comes from. What held that person back?
On the other hand, Jesus praises the ones who use and increase their talents. “Well done!” Jesus says. Why does he say that? What is the difference? The answer is this: in order for a person to recognize and use his talents, a person has to pray daily. After praying, a person has to take a risk. He must act. That is what those two men who increased their talents did.
I would like to tell you a story about someone who prayed and took risks. He was born into a rich family, and, in fact, was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed slave woman. When he was a child, his dad left him and his mother. While his mom had few material things to give him, she did give him a very beautiful gift: a love of prayer, and grateful heart, and desire to care for those who had even less. The man I am speaking of is none other than Martin de Porres.
There is a story from Martin’s childhood that shows the prayer, gratitude, and care that Martin possessed. One day, his mom gave him a coin and sent him to the market, saying, “This is the last of our money. Go, buy some bread.” On the way home, Martin met a blind beggar. Martin began to realize that the man had not eaten for days and gave him the bread. The man asked the boy his name and then said, “Martin, one day you will be the greatest man of Peru.”
When Martin got home, though, his mom was less than impressed. She rised to discipline Martin, but that she hugged him. “We will be hungry tonight,” she said, “but we will be happy. You have done a good thing.”
As a young man, Martin became an apprentice to a barber. In those days, barbers were almost minor surgeons who helped people who were ill. By day martin studied the properties of herbs, but by night, he prayed. Eventually he became a Dominican brother. Martin put his medical knowledge to use for the poor in Lima and the men in his community. However, he never avoided humble tasks like washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. In fact, Martin was happiest when doing menial work.
Martin did experience prejudice and envy. That never stopped him. When he died at age 59, he had won a tremendous amount of adoration. Death did not mark the end of Martin’s contributions to the world. One miracle for his canonization involved a four-year-old boy whose foot was crushed by a falling cement block. Gangrene began to set in and the doctors decided to amputate. A family friend gave them a piece of cloth that had been touched t St. Martin’s remains. The boy’s mom placed the cloth on his foot and started to pray. Color began to return and the gangrene completely disappeared.
St. Martin de Porres used his talents to the fullest in this life, and he continues to work even today. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s great, Father, but I’m no saint.” Well, neither am I and we can work together towards sainthood. I do admire someone like St. Martin who gave 100% to God. Some days, even with God’s help, I’m only able to give about 30 to 60%. I know one day I’m going to be called to give 100%, and only with Jesus’ help-and so will you. The important thing is this, that we not bury our talent.
We need your talents for our parish. Many of you already serve our community in different ways, and we appreciate that. Perhaps, though, God maybe calling you to do something different. On the other hand, perhaps it has been a while since you have done any service in the parish. Pray about how God might be calling you to use your talents in our parish.
Next week is the Feast of Christ the King. This will conclude the Liturgical Year and my homily series on solidarity. While I won’t be introducing a new aspect of solidarity, I will bring together the three aspects we have seen: prayer, finances, and talents. Ladies and gentlemen, stay tuned! In the meantime, remember the example of St. Martin de Porres, who gave 100%, and ask him to pray that we all grow in our desire to develop and use our God-given talents to the fullest.