Using Your Talents

33rd  Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prv 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thes 5: 1-6; Mt 25: 14-30

Dc. Larry Brockman


Suppose I handed you a bag with 80 pounds of silver in it, and told you to take care of it for me while I was gone?   Well, that’s what a single “Talent” was in Jesus day- 80 pounds of silver- 80 pounds of it.   That’s about 17 years-worth of daily wages for the average worker at the time.   So, one single Greek “Talent” was a very large sum of money.   And yet the least of the three servants was entrusted with this much by the Master.   Other servants were given twice as much or five times as much.  


This really sheds a different light for me on this parable, because the reality is that all three servants were entrusted with significant responsibility, protecting a large sum of money.      Now, the Master is said to be gone for a long time.   Our Bible scholars tell us that “the long time” referred to here is the length of time between Jesus Resurrection and the second coming of Christ; and that all of us are the servants, each gifted by God with a generous, yet unequal share of talents.   We will be asked to give an accounting of ourselves at the Last Judgment, just like the three servants in the parable.   Although we are each given varying and different talents, we are all expected to use them- make them work in the service of the Lord- equally.   And those who don’t do something with their talents will be thrown out of the Kingdom of God.     


Let’s consider a few things about the details in this parable.   First, the talents were given to “servants”; not to sons, friends, or other relationships.   Second, a single talent was quite valuable, as I’ve already pointed out.   Third, the talents were entrusted, not given outright to the servants.   So, they always belonged to the Master, not to the servants.   And lastly, the task that the servants had  was to do something with the talents for the Master.   The Master intended for his wealth to be handled prudently, but not locked up in isolation.     


Each of us is entrusted with one or more gifts by God.   We don’t own them- they are not ours to do with as we wish.   And they are gifts, not something we have earned.   Rather, we are loaned the talent or talents so that we will do something with them for God.   We are his servants when it comes to stewardship of these talents   We cannot lock them up.     


Now, some of us seem more fortunate than others.   Some are gifted with good looks, brains, athleticism, and money- in fact some seem to have everything.   I see that these gifted people are seated to your left and right.   Others seem to have nothing, at least by this World’s standards.   Most of us are somewhere in between.   But God has given each of us a valuable talent- that’s part of the message.   Yes, each of us has been given at least 80 pounds of silver, as it were.   We just have to recognize what our gifts are.     


These gifts may be disguised as something else, for example- caring for children, caring for an elderly relative, or learning to live with a disability.   These can all be viewed as gifts rather than a problem.   In God’s eyes, children and the elderly are as valuable as any other life.   So, being a custodian for such lives is like caring for precious gold or silver.   It is, after all, the Lord who decides what is valuable and needs to be cared for, not us.     


It is different for people who recognize their gift, but bury it.   For example, some people continuously hear a call by the Lord.   We know a priest from another Diocese who was ordained later in life- in his 50’s.   He told us that he had run away from God’s call for 20 years!   And, even though he had been successful in the business world, smething wasn’t quite right.   So, in the end, he went into the seminary.   Likewise, some of you are being called by God and know it- that is your gift.   Are you hiding it?  Suppressing it?   It doesn’t have to be a religious call, although sometimes it will be.   It could be a nagging feeling about something that you perceive is not quite right; something you feel you need to do something about but, you just haven’t acted on it.   It could be getting involved with politics; helping by volunteering your time or talent; learning more about your faith.   All of these are ways to follow through on a call to use your talent.     


And then there are those who have and recognize a talent but; they really don’t use it much.   They may have a beautiful voice- but don’t join the choir.   They are a great teacher- but are deaf to the call for helping with CCD or Prep.   Or any of a number of artistic capabilities that remain dormant.   Did you know that burying a large sum of money was a perfectly acceptable practice to keep it secure in Jesus day and age?   Likewise, there are many legitimate excuses for burying our talents today, such as a sense of false humility or fear or just the turmoil of life.   Every one of us can understand such roadblocks.   The question is, how will God view them?     


Notice that the servants in the parable have been given plenty of time- the “long while” that Jesus speaks of, to use their talents while the Master is gone.   Two of them do, basically doubling their Master’s wealth; only one of the servants does not.   Likewise, all of us have been given a lifetime.   Things happen in life, and that’s OK.   That’s why God is patient with us, and for most of us, gives us 50 to 90 years.   But the point is that God has given us adequate opportunities because he has given us a lifetime.     


Now St. Paul tells us about the second coming of Christ in the second reading:   He says “It will come like a thief in the night”.   So, it could be at any time.   That‘s the catch- we have been given a lifetime, but we just don’t know when it will end.     


Over this weekend, the Parish is conducting seven funerals- an uncharacteristically large number.   And they are being held for 3 year olds all the way up to folks in their 80’s.  This points to the truth of Paul’s epistle.   Because God could call any one of us to our Judgment at any time, just like these seven people have been called.   But are you ready?     

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