Today’s Gospel contains the “Parable of the Talents” in which Jesus taught that we are all given gifts (time, treasure and talent) and have the opportunity to invest, to make wise choices, to use them for the greater glory of God. Unfortunately, some of us for whatever reason bury them into the ground where they sit idly and unused. For others of us, we find good reason to unearth our talents. Marguerite was one such person.
Living in Montreal in the 1700s, she and her husband were people of good fortune, high society. They lived in wealth and comfort. Marguerite gave birth to five children and when the sixth was on the way, her husband fell ill and died when she was just 29 years old. When they learned of his death, various men called upon her to repay his gambling and business debts which left her without nearly any money at all. At that point, she became well acquainted with the side of Montreal she hadn’t previously known – the life of the poor, the sick, the forgotten. And she took great pity upon them.
She noticed that the General Hospital of Montreal had fallen into a grave state of disrepair. She also noticed that the poor were unable to receive care there. So, working with government, business owners and the Church, she raised the money to improve the hospital and eventually she and a society of women she had founded were asked to take over its operation. She agreed… but on the one condition that anyone, anyone, who needed care could receive it there even if they did not have the means to pay for it.
The hospital was destroyed by fire when Marguerite was 65 years old and it is reported that she knelt down in the ruble and prayed to God, asking that if he wanted her to rebuild it, she would. And she prayed for his help.
Rebuild the hospital she did and she and her companions, who would become known as the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, eventually built hospitals all across Canada and the Unites States, in South America and in Africa as well. Like the General Hospital of Montreal, Marguerite rose up out of the ashes of her life and served. She put her talents to good use…
But what about us? I don’t think I have it in me to start an order of religious, to build hospitals on three continents, to serve millions upon millions of people. What can I do?
I heard recently that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, said that he enjoys watching parents interact with their young children. They reach down, enter their space in a way the children can comprehend… in words and gestures. This is tenderness. And it is the same tenderness that God himself showed when he entered into our space in a way we can comprehend, in the form of Jesus. This too was done in tenderness.
The Holy Father goes on to say that we can change the world if we band together in unity, in what he refers to as a Revolution of Tenderness. It is this lack of tenderness to each other that troubles him most.
We should show tenderness to each other… to those we care about, admire and who treat us with respect. And to those who do not, to those with whom we disagree, who do not show us respect. Let’s lead with love, with tenderness. We can do that. You and I. Let’s join the Revolution. Then, like Saint Marguerite, we too can unearth our talents… and change the world.