Thirty-Third Ordinary

The Introduction 

I was talking to a group of small children about the gifts God has given them. One girl seem unconvinced. Her older sister, she told me with dewy-eyed admiration, had all the talent in her family: intelligence, athletic ability, and creativity. She herself, however, had none.

On the contrary, I assured her, she had many gifts of her own. She had a generous love for her sister, a pleasant personality, a warm smile, and a way of making people happy to talk with her. These were talents from God, too, and I urged her to name other things she was good at that were less obvious than these.

Some weeks later I was at home, having a bad spell of writer’s block, and began to feel frustrated with the blank computer screen. Going to the mailbox to retrieve my letters, I noticed one printed in pencil. It was from the little girl I had spoken with, and inside the envelope was a crayon drawing with these words pencilled alongside: You have talents. God created you to use your talents. NAME THEM. She gave the story of the talents back to me multiplied, and I got back to work exhilarated.

What talents have you been given by God, and how have you invested them?

Give thanks to a person who has inspired you with their holy fidelity. If possible, call or write and tell them what their example has meant for you. If not, spend a day appreciating them by emulating their witness.

The Scripture
(Matthew 25: 19-21 The Parable of the Three Servants)

Jesus continued, ‘After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on you’ll be my partner’’.

The Story – Give Absence Its Place

I had a friend whose father worked a lot of evenings and also travelled a lot for his job. He once told me, ‘I was always relieved when I heard Dad’s footstep on the stairs coming up to our unit. Life never seemed quite right when he was away, and for a while I found myself becoming withdrawn and depressed during his absences’. Though God never leaves us, there are times we experience the absence of God. This week’s gospel begins by saying that the landowner was leaving – going on a journey. The story revolves around what happens in the landowners absence. Some people stay busy and involved in life, putting their ‘talents’ to really good use. Others withdraw from life and get disengaged.

Perhaps one of the best benefits of having faith, even in those times when we don’t feel God’s presence, is that it gives us the confidence to continue to function well in life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – despite our uncertainties.

This is one of the biggest gifts that parents can nurture in their children – the ability to have faith even in times of doubt. We will all go through times of confusion. But the worst thing we can do at such times is to withdraw our gifts and our talents from the world. For it is putting them to good use that we’re most likely to hear God’s footsteps and know that all is well.

The Reflection

Millie was now quite old but she always had a strange attitude to gifts. If she was given a present, she would thank the person profusely and say how kind it was of them to give her a gift. She said she would treasure it. Then without unwrapping it she put it away in a drawer for another day. When a niece came to help her to move she discovered many unused gifts, still wrapped. There were biscuits and cakes that had moulded away; there was jars of things that had long passed their use-by date; there were clothes that now would no longer fit Millie. Drawer after drawer of gifts were put out in the bin. Because she did not use any of them she lost them; she never had the benefit of them. In the same way we will lose our local small shops unless we use them. We will lose bus services unless we use them. We will lose our God-given gifts and talents unless we use them. The thing we need understand is ‘use it or lose it’.

The Commissioning

Go from this place to bring the change that God whole-hearted seeks.
We will search out our talents carefully; we will use our abilities generously;
we will share our time graciously; we will open our horizons adventurously;
we will comfort the suffering tenderly; we will confront the powerful openly.
And the God who gave us Jesus will give you peace.
All: Amen.

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