USING YOUR TALENT FOR EXPLOIT
(Prov 31, 10-13.19-20; 1Thess 5, 1-6; Matt 25, 14-30)
As we come closer to the end of the liturgical year, the Church invites us through the readings to reflect on our lives in view of the end, in view of its final consummation. Looking towards life’s final consummation implies both a consideration of our past as well as the anticipation of our plans for the future that lies ahead of us. The readings offer us an opportunity to reflect on how we have used the many gifts the lord has graciously granted us.
In the gospel, Jesus uses the parable of the talent to equally remind us that we must be ready to render a good account of our talents. God has endowed each one of us with different talents, each according to our capacities. So, as faithful servants, he expects us to render a good account of the “talents” we have received. Each servant in the parable was given money (a talent was worth about twenty years’ wages) according to his ability. The man with much ability was given five talents; the man with average ability received two talents; the man with minimal ability received one talent.
Talent is a Greek word for ‘money’. In English a ‘Talent’ is defined as “a natural ability to do something well” (OALD), or “a natural ability that can be improved by diligent practice”. The first step in utilizing our talents is to acknowledge that we have them. The talents represent opportunities to use our abilities. If five talents were given to a person with minimal ability, he would be destroyed by the heavy responsibility. But if only one talent were given to a man of great ability, he would be disgraced and degraded. God assigns work and opportunity according to ability. We have been assigned our ministries according to the abilities and gifts God has given us. It is our privilege to serve the Lord and multiply His goods.
The three servants fell into two categories: faithful and unfaithful. The faithful servants took their talents and put them to work for their Lord and they each received the same commendation. It was not the portion but the proportion that made the difference. They started as servants, but their Lord promoted them to rulers. They were faithful with a few things, so the Lord trusted them with many things. They had worked and toiled, and now they entered into joy. Their faithfulness gave each of them a capacity for greater service and responsibility.
What do you think of the unfaithful servant in today’s gospel? He was given the equivalent of about twenty years wages, which means a huge worth of silver coins in his hands. He decided to bury them for fear of losing them in trading. Instead of using his talent, he buried it because he was afraid he might fail, he never tried to succeed. He feared life and his responsibilities. This paralyzed him with anxiety, so he buried the talent to protect it. He forgot that life is a risk. People who are afraid of risking anything or taking chances do not win. Fear is not the mother of invention or discovery. Fear paralyses action. Fearful people will be concerned about their own skin and security.
What we do not use for the Lord, we are in danger of losing. This servant did not have a trusting relationship with his master, but was afraid of him, and this hindered him. The master reprimanded the unfaithful, unprofitable servant, and then took his talent from him. He did not purposely do evil. But by doing nothing, he was committing sin and robbing his Lord of service and increase and therefore was unrewarded. The man with the most talents received the extra talent.
The author of the book of provide, in the first reading, uses the imagery of a productive wife in her home to illustrate the possibilities inherent in each of the talents and graces we have received from God. She uses her talents to transform a house into a home where one can find love, peace and calm. The ability to transform a house into a home underlies the faithful and fruitful exploration of the diversity of one’s talents, of the grace we have received from God. On account of this “her husband’s heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit.
Jesus challenges us to be prudent and productive with our talents. Most importantly, he admonishes us to live in anticipation of His inevitable return. We must not wait for this return in idleness. Rather, we must be active and industrious with the talents we have received. So, we must use our talents to the glory of God. As trustworthy servants, we should avoid indifference, apathy, licentiousness, sloth, complacency towards our mission. These will not fetch us any reward from Christ. If we are faithful and productive with the talents we have received, Christ our head will also say to us: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Peace be with you!
Fr Dumlesi Tor