St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Talents: God and Us                                                                -Homily November 16, 2014

 

Today we often hear about “Talent Shows”, that consist of a series of individual performances (such as singing, dancing, playing an instrument) by amateurs who may be selected for special recognition because they perform well.

In the times of Jesus “talent” was the word used to designate a unit of weight or money. Because of the parable we heard today (Matthew 25,14-30), “talent” is used to describe the natural ability for being good at a particular activity or a special aptitude or skill that allows someone to do something well.

From the parable of the Talents, we want to point out two teachings, one about ourselves (1) and another about God (2).

 

1. All of us have talents.

The Teaching about ourselves: We, all of us, have talents. I do not know anyone who has no talent. God gives to men and women different gifts, talents, aptitudes, skills, blessings.

 

What Kind of Talents?

There are all kinds of talents. It can be natural skills such as athletic, creative, or artistic aptitudes. There are people who play instruments well, other people sing or paint, others play some sport very well. But these are not all the gifts we can receive in our life. Talents can be natural virtues such as the capacity to listen to others, to be meek, kind, friendly, polite, to have good heart, to be smart or intelligent. They can be other skills we have learnt during the years such as sewing, cooking, or our profession. It can be richness in the few or many things we have.

A special gift that all of us received from God is our family, and another great gift is our Faith. Pope Francis said: “This parable urges us to not hide our faith and our belonging to Christ, to not bury the Word of the Gospel, but to make it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in our concrete situations, as a power that undermines, that purifies, that renews” (3).

 

What Matters?

One man received five talents, another two, and another one. It is not a man’s talent, which matters; what matters is how he uses it. God never demands from a man abilities which he has not got; but he does demand that a man should use, to the full, the abilities which he does possess. Men are not equal in talent; but men can be equal in effort. The parable tells us that whatever talent we have, little or great, we must lay it at the service of God.

 

More Work To Do

The Gospel tells us that the reward of work well done is still more work to do. The two servants who had done well are not told to lean back and rest on their oars because they have done well. They are given greater tasks and greater responsibilities in the work of the master.

It tells us that the man who is punished is the man who will not try. The man with the one talent did not lose his talent; he simply did nothing with it. Even if he had adventured with it and lost it, it would have been better than to do nothing at all. It is always a temptation for the one talent man to say, “I have so small a talent and I can do so little with it. It is not worth while to try, for all the contribution I can make.” The condemnation is for the man who, having even one talent, will not try to use it, and will not risk it for the common good.

Our Homework

The first step that all of us must take is to recognize or discover our talents. It would be useful to take a few minutes this week and write on a sheet of paper the talent we know that God has given us. We will be surprised.

The second step is to see how we are using them. We must ask ourselves what we are doing in our life with the gifts that we received.

These two steps are our homework this week.

 

2. How do we think about God?

The second teaching in today’s Gospel is about God: How do we think about God?

The words of the third servant manifest a negative view of the master and the resulting fear. Because of this fear the servant takes the wrong solution: hide the talent, in order to be able to recover it and return it to his master. The master, however, did not give his talents to his servants only that they might be saved, but because they were to be used in a profitable way.

The master shows him that his conduct is inconsistent. The servant says, “Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter “and his master points out: “Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?”. This is the minimum that the servant could have done.

We must have a positive idea of God. We must not think that he is a bad boss, a tough and stern person, who only wants to take advantage of the people at fault to punish them. If we have a bad idea of God, then our lives will not be fruitful: we will live in fear.

We need to examine ourselves to see what our idea of God is.

God is manifested, especially in the Gospel, as a God full of generosity, mercy, like a father. And he insisted on showing us that God is not a bad boss, but a father full of love and generosity.

Because He loves us, He gave us talents. He trusts in us and He knows that we can use them rightly.

He gave us our life, our family, our skills, our Faith. He gave us Jesus, his only Son. He gave us the sacraments.

God has a project for us: For each one of us it is different, and for this reason, all of us have different talents.

Our mission is to develop, improve, and increase our talents living our life like a gift of God.

Talents are God given and if we share them, they will help others glorify Him who gave them freely to show his love. God trusts in us. We must trust in him too.

Let Our Lady help us to use our talents for the good of our brothers and sisters. 

–Fr. Higinio

 

 

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(1) Cfr. Albert Vanhoye, Le Letture Bibliche delle Domeniche, Anno A, Roma 2004, 294-297.

(2) Cfr. William Barclay, The daily study Bible. The Gospel of Matthew, Burlington 1975, 321-324.

(3) Pope Francis, Angelus November 16th, 2014.