Message: Like St. Martin de Porres we want to develop and use our God-given talents - and to hear those beautiful words, "Well done!"
Today we have the third homily on solidarity. So far we have seen two dimensions of solidarity: prayer and financial resources. Today we focus on the third dimension: solidarity of talents. This means to recognize our God-given abilities, develop them and invest them. Some people think they don't have any talents, but they do. Talents include music, hospitality, heart for the poor, encouragement, healing, empathy, love of learning, teaching and much more. Each of us has strengths, capacities and abilities. God wants us to use them for his glory and for the good of others.
What's holding us back? In the Gospel Jesus tells about a guy who out of fear buries his talent. He calls him "lazy" and takes away his talent. Use it or lose it.
On the other hand, Jesus praises the ones who use and increase their talents. "Well done!" he says. What's the difference? The American preacher, Norman Vincent Peale observes that to recognize and use talents, a person has to pray daily. "In the same way I nourish my body, I have to keep nourishing my spirit." After praying a person has to act, take a risk. "Instead of thinking of failures that could come," he say, "I am going to concentrate on the goals and ideals I wish to reach."
I'd like to tell you about a man who prayed, then took risks. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. No, he was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed slave woman. When he was a small child, his dad abandoned his mother. She had few material things to give him, but she did give him something wonderful: love of prayer, a thankful spirit and care for those who have even less.
You may have guessed who I am talking about: Martin de Porres. A story from Martin's childhood illustrates the qualities of prayer, gratitude and care. Once his mom gave him a small coin and said, "This is our last money. Go, buy some bread." On the way home a blind beggar stopped Martin. Perhaps he smelled the wonderful aroma of baked bread. Martin realized the man had not eaten for days and gave him the bread rolls. The man asked the boy his name, then said, "Martin, one day you will be the greatest man of our Peru."
When he got home his mother did not think he was so great. She raised her hand to strike Martin, but then embraced him. "We will be hungry tonight," she said, "but we will be happy. You have done a good thing."
As a teenager Martin became an apprentice to a barber. In those days barbers were minor physicians who helped people with various cures. By day Martin studied the properties of herbs and by night he prayed - maybe one hour, maybe two, sometimes the entire night. Eventually he became a Dominican brother. He put his medical knowledge to use for the poor of Lima and for the other Dominicans. And he did not avoid humbler tasks like washing dishes or sweeping the floor. Martin's symbol is the broom because he was happiest when doing humble work.
For sure Martin experienced prejudice, put-down's and envy. None of that stopped him or even slowed him down. When he died at age 59 he had won the admiration of all. After his death Martin kept working. One of the miracles for his canonization involved a four-year-old boy whose foot was crushed by a falling cement block. The foot began to turn purple with gangrene and the doctors decided to amputate. A family friend gave his mom a strip of cloth that had touched the remains of St. Martin. The mom placed the cloth on her son's foot and started to pray. Color began to return and to the amazement of the doctors the gangrene completely disappeared.
St. Martin de Porres used his talents to full in this life - and he continues to work. You might be thinking, "That's fine for him but I am no saint." Well, neither am I. But I admire someone like Martin who gave 100%. Maybe with God's help, I can give 60% or 30%. Someday you and I will have to give 100% - with Jesus it eventually comes down to all or nothing. But the important thing today is to not bury your talent. As Blessed Mother Teresa said, "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
We need your talents for our parish. Last week I gave you a card for Stewardship - solidarity of financial resources. Today we have card for solidarity of talents. I know that many of you serve the community in different ways, but I want you to know that we do need your talents here in our parish. Take a look at the card for Stewardship of Time and Talents. If you recognize a ministry or service that interests you, please check it and place it in the collection. You may also take the card home to pray about it. In the past we fell down in getting back to people, but we have improved in recent years. If you have a problem, please talk to me, phone me or email me - and I will notify the appropriate person.
Next week we have the Feast of Christ the King. This Feast concludes our Liturgical Year - and also this series on solidarity. I will not introduce a new dimension of solidarity but will bring together the three we have seen: prayer, finances and talents. This Sunday we have seen the example of a man who gave 100%. Like St. Martin de Porres we want to develop and use our God-given talents - and to hear those beautiful words, "Well done!" Amen.
Solidarity Week 1:
Solidarity Week 2:
Solidarity Week 3:
Solidarity Week 4:
From Archives (Thirty-Third Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru