Our Talents

For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

If it weren’t said by Jesus, we would think that this statement is so unfair, and even cruel; but it is a simple observation of what goes on in us and all around us, daily. Physically, as they stop exercising and watching their diet, former athletes grow soft and flabby. Brains waste away if they are not challenged by mental drills, by new intellectual inputs and by demanding reasoning. Psychologically, those who don’t put order in their life and do not master their emotions wind up ruled by them and crumble from within. Financially, if one doesn’t take calculated risks, fails to seek sound advice, and to make informed decisions, or to invest with self-discipline, eventually might lose everything.

In all areas of life, what Jesus states today (Mt 25:14-30) is proven true.

For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Why then does it still seem unfair, and even cruel? I think that we find the answer in what the lazy servant gave as an excuse for burying his master’s money.

so, out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.

Fear takes many forms and guises. But they stem all from this basic, enclosed reasoning: “once I am ok, who cares about everyone else? I do all I have to do to ensure my self-interest and comfort; once I got all I could out of people, what happens to them does not concern me.”

If this unspoken thought rules our life, we would be inclined to bury the talents, the gifts, the skills that we received from God rather than decide to multiply them and, thus, grow richer in rewarding and fulfilling ways.

The type of fear ruling us could be fear of forfeiting our immediate comfort by getting personally involved. Or it could be the fear of ridicule in case of failure, or of inconveniencing ourselves for little payoff, or of committing ourselves to something or someone for the long haul. Fear of giving ourselves totally to an ideal, to a cause, to a person could be the scariest one, because we would sense that the core of our self will have to be made available to someone else and, thus, vulnerable, and exposed, beyond our control.

Such a thought simply frightens many of us. …so, out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.

Hence, the question rushing to the fore of our psyche must be this one: “will even the little that I manage to keep because of my fears be taken away from me, as the Lord warns?” 

Personally, I must confess that, as often as the Lord wins a battle over my fears, I find myself rejoicing in the fruits of trusting, of daring, of sharing, of considering others more important than myself and placing their well-being ahead of my own.

I am certain that you, too, have had similar moments of elation. Yet, as elation wears out, we might be tempted to bury our talents at least until the next time God’s grace enables us to win another battle over our fears. But a lesson we learned quickly from this parable is that our world of caring shrinks for the period our talents remain buried and genuine joy disappears. It is only the vivid recollection of the elation which took over our entire being whenever we dared, and we set our creativity free that will prompt us to dig up our talents again. 

Conversely, whenever we are sad, dissatisfied, and uncertain, we should ask ourselves “how small is my universe, today?” Do I have plans to make it even more restricted? Or do I trust the Lord enough to consider expanding it and find genuine joy again?”

Let us look at how intensely creative the ideal woman in the Book of Proverbs (31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31) was! How daring, how farsighted she was, and how large her circle of concern became thanks to her creativity! And because of all her creativity, how fulfilled, self-confident, happy, and rewarded she felt!

Serious reflection on this parable should help us unearth any of the talents which our fears have buried in the ground of disengagement and aloofness. Then, with the constant help of the Holy Spirit and motivated by the experience of former elation we shall set out to use all our talents to attend to the needs of Jesus hidden in the least of our brothers and sisters, so that our elation may last into eternity. 

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