What a wonderful insight today’s gospel gives us into who we are! Even more so into what we are called to be, the dream to be realised. The talents to be discovered and developed to the fullest of our potential. To turn opportunities into blessings for someone, a situation, a community. Who can do this? Whose soul can awake to not being afraid of dying or succumb to burying our talents in the ground of hopelessness and fear or self-pity?
And then I remembered John Hume, a Patron of APA (A Partnership with Africa), an organization which, with friends, I had founded nearly 2 decades ago. Here was a person, who was just that. Like the servants in the Gospel that Jesus speaks of, Hume served the people of his beloved Derry and beyond, fearlessly and with great personal commitment, often putting his life on the line. Bono’s verse in his honour was read by Bishop Donal McKeown at the Derryman’s Funeral Mass.
“We were looking for: a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger.
We were looking for: some superpowers and found clarity of thought, kindness and persistence.
We were looking for: revolution and found it in parish halls with tea and biscuits and late-night meetings under fluorescence.
We were looking for: a negotiator who understood that no one wins unless everyone wins … and that peace is the only victory.
We were looking for: joy and heard it in the song of a man who loved his town so well and his missus even more.
We were looking for: a great leader and found a great servant.
We found John Hume.”
John Hume witnessed as a servant of peace and good will, multiplying his God-given talents 100-fold. The doorway candles were a fitting symbol of the light of hope and peace that he continually fanned into life, channeling blessings to the broken hearts of many, and hope in a most troubled time in our land. It is through our tolerance and respect that peace is nurtured in our families, grows in communities and country. As we cope with the enormous challenge of Covid-19, we are witnessing an extraordinary sharing of talents in the tolerance and commitment of medical staff, drivers, service-providers, pastors, parents, teachers, senior citizens and full-of-life young people.
These are our sisters and brothers, our neighbours, our grandparents, our young people our Gardaí, our students all who are forgoing enjoyment, sports, travel, school, work, daily and weekly Mass and services in parishes. All these and many more are utilizing their talents through their dedication, patience, service, respect, tolerance, not getting up on a self-righteous pedestal but humbly carrying daily the cross of inconvenience to protect each other, using their talents in the service of each other or, in John Hume’s words about himself, “I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply in terms of helping (serving) people”.
Whether on the coalface of life-giving service with our people or in the coal shed the use of one’s talents is a precious and life-giving service.
Image by Gavan Connolly: View of Derry City & Peace Bridge from Ebrington Barracks