The Gift of Talents -Thirty third Sunday in Ordinary Time      

The talents referred to in today’s Gospel story from Matthew 25 are silver and have a value of about $1,000 each. Those who had received five, two or one talent were entrusted with the responsible use of the amount they received from the master. Matthew is urging his readers to be responsible in all ways, as they await the final judgment.

The introductory verse of the parable helpfully places the fiscal word talent in proximity to the word ability. Thus, it is natural for us to consider our gifts and aptitudes, not merely pieces of silver.

We have each received many talents and skills. Some are ours from birth. Others have been fostered throughout life – from parents, extended family, formal and informal education, friends, mentors, reading, reflection on life experience, and so on. It is helpful at times to sit and make a list of one’s gifts.

That can be a great remedy for a lack of self-confidence. It can also serve to make us less envious of someone else’s gifts and talents. We discover just how gifted we are!

Of course, one of the dangers of enumerating my many skills and talents is the possibility of pride or the thought that I am the creator of my gifts. We have to find a way to maintain our faith that the source of the gifts is God, to keep a balanced view of the relationship between the Creator and the creature. The hope is that this will lead to gratitude and humility.

The proper understanding of my giftedness is that I will deepen my desire to share my gifts with others, not to squander them or bury them in the ground. How do I let my light shine while remaining confident that the light is from God, not from efforts on my part?

Scripture offers many helpful reflections on that connection between my efforts and God’s grace working in me.

I dealt in spiritual direction one time with a man who told me that he grew up constantly hearing how great his potential was. Parents and teachers and others would often suggest to him that he could do a marvellous job with anything he decided to pursue.

I was meeting with him when he was in his mid-forties. He had never settled on one career path. He was bouncing around from interest to interest. He was certainly aware of his gifts. But he had never done the crucial work of examining where his heart was.

What do I really want to do with my life? What career path will give me most peace? Discernment about our gifts is essential. The simple truth is that I can’t do it all. I have to make a choice about how I will use my abilities.

What are your gifts? How have you used them for the building up of others? Or, have you buried them, pretending that you have nothing to offer? It’s not too late to offer those gifts to others. We are living through an unprecedented time, an era where our gifts are more needed than in other times.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 08:38h, 15 November Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Robert Czerny
    Posted at 08:56h, 15 November Reply

    I regard this parable about heaven as an instruction about human participation in creation. The gift of life is all a person needs to have the privilege and responsibility of playing one’s part. Everyone must contribute. The only crime is to do nothing, to be a freeloader, to think only of one’s own welfare. I believe this is consistent with the Pope’s thinking in Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti.

  • Sharon Walters
    Posted at 09:37h, 15 November Reply

    Thank you! God has given you a great gift.

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