This Sunday's (11/13) gospel reading of the Parable of the Talent's (Matt 25:14-30), speaks to me about how we are to use God's gift's to us. Too often I compare what other's have to what I've been given. This account reminds me that it's not how much, or even what I've been given that's important: it's about what I do with it.
Jesus, speaking to his disciples, tells them of a man about to leave on a journey. He has entrusted his servants with his possessions, or "talents" "each according to his ability"(v.15). After a long time, the master returned to settle accounts with them. The servant who was given five talents made five more, and was rewarded by his master. The servant who was given two talents, also doubled his master's treasure and was rewarded appropriately. But the servant who was given one talent, had, out of fear, buried his in a field. Consequently, he was only able to return the one, since he had not attempted to produce fruits, even from the little he was given. The master was livid with anger. "You wicked and lazy servant!," he exclaimed. Then he "cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness: there men will weep and gnash their teeth"(v.30)
The Navarre Bible says that a talent was not a coin, but a measure of value worth about one hundred pounds of silver. The Dictionary of the Bible says a talent was a weight measurement equal to about 6000 drachmas. But whatever it was, it is undeniable that talents had value, and it was a responsibility given to his servants to take these talents and show an increase with them.
None of the three servants received the same amount. But each was expected to use what was given them, and bear fruit. In the same way, we are given gifts, skills, abilities, "talents" from God at Creation. These gifts, uniquely different from one another, are not to be "buried in the ground"(v.25) and returned to Our Lord unused. In Mark 4:21, Jesus asks," Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket, or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?"
In the 14th century, St. Catherine of Siena had powerful mystical experiences of God. She related what He spoke to her in her classic work, The Dialogue. In it, God says to Catherine," For I could have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another, so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me (emphasis mine)....I have made you my ministers setting you in different positions and ranks to exercise the virtue of charity....All I want is love...If you are bound by this love you will do everything you can to be of service wherever you are."
We should not be surprised to see that our talents are to be used to serve others. It is no coincidence that this parable falls immediately before Jesus's account of the Final Judgment. Then, we will realize that what we have done, or have failed to do for the least of our brethren, will determine our fate. Our love of God, or our neglect of Him are reflected in how well we have used his gifts, if we've used them at all.
The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, wrote in his book, New Seeds of Contemplation", "My own individual destiny is an encounter with God that He has destined for me alone. His glory in me will be to receive from me something He can never receive from anyone else because it is a gift to me which He has never given to anyone else and never will." (emphasis mine)
Though uniquely given to us alone, our "talents" are not for us alone. We are called to empty ourselves of them as humble ministers in service to others. And in the end, all we will have of our time, treasure and talents is what we have given away. Then with hope in Our Lord, we shall be invited by Him to "Come, and share in our Master's joy!"
Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.