Homily – The Parable of the Talents
33rd Sunday Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel is one of my favorites because I think it represents a truth that so many of us struggle to understand. In the Gospel each person was given a specific amount of talents, and then they either used them completely, partially, or not at all.
This parable is a direct reflection of the talents or gifts given to each of us. You have probably noticed that God gave each of the men a different amount of talents, just like how God creates us uniquely and give each of us different gifts and in different quantities. Yet – we often forget about our uniqueness. In many ways we want to be like others, or at least possess their qualities. When we were younger, many of us looked up and admired, and wanted to be like an older brother or sister, or perhaps like that popular person at school. And even as we age, we still often find ourselves looking on to others with some degree of jealousy.
You know what I mean:
1. The person who seems so happy, physically fit, and attractive.
2. The person with such musical talent.
3. The person with the big beautiful house... and for us guys.... the guy with all the toys.
4. Or even the person who seems to attract such attention when the walk into a room with their charismatic personality.
Don’t we all find some degree with such struggle?
This reminds me of some wise words once shared with me regarding the awful trap of comparing oneself to others. These wise words, simple in concept, have changed so many lives. It goes something like this: Beware of the trap of comparing yourself with others. Because what we see in others is not the complete person, usually only seeing what the other wants you to see. We are all pretty good at hiding our faults, especially our really bad ones. What we often see in others is the best of their qualities, yet what we know of ourselves includes what I like to say is the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” And if you continually compare yourself, your entire self, only against the visibly good qualities of another, it doesn’t take long and you are feeling pretty unsubstantial. You see, this is not a fair or true comparison, comparing all of you against only the good of another. And what makes this worse; many of us are continually comparing ourselves against ten or even hundreds of others in such a manner. Yet, so many us do this, some of us are doing this right now. No wonder why so many people take anti-depressant medication. No wonder why so many people constantly work through gossip trying to destroy reputations and create scandle... they want others to look less perfect so they can feel better about themselves.
Yet, they miss the whole point. None of us were created to share the exact same qualities, and not in the same amounts. We are not to look externally and try to identify who we are, but we are to look internally, deeply, identifying our unique gifts, then grow and nurture those gifts, and then share those gifts with others. That is how we are to find our purpose in life, to find peace and comfort. It isn’t difficult to see our faults.... we all have them... and we all know them very well.
1. Some of us have difficulty with moderation.
2. Some of us are quick to anger and slow to forgive.
3. Some of us are prideful
4. Some of us have physical disabilities
5. Some of us are shorter than we would like to be, or have less hair than we would like
6. Some of us struggle with learning
7. And some of us have difficulty being around people.
But God isn’t concerned with these faults, he often gives them to us to keep us humble and they help us develop virtue and character. God is more concerned with the personal identification of our gifts and talents.
1. Some of us are especially kind and compassionate.
2. Some of us have the ability to develop and maintain deep and meaningful relationships.
3. Some of us are intelligent and can teach others.
4. Some of us are healthy and can physically work hard.
5. Some of us are creative.
6. Some of us are healers: physically and spiritually.
God doesn’t care about status, popularity, or external characteristics. He cares about your heart and your soul, and how you serve others to the best of your ability with the gifts he has given to you. He wants you to use them for the good of others, not to just burry them or keep them to yourselves. Unlike the misguided saying that “You can be anything you want to be,” this is not necessarily true. God has a special purpose for you and if you only look deeply within yourself, you will see that you were created specifically to be something and someone. Not everyone is destined to be the president, an astronaut, nor a doctor or lawyer. Not everyone has the gift to be a beautiful singer, poet, or artist. But each of us can be something much greater.... A Saint!
All we have to do is use what God has given to us, our unique gift, to develop that gift, and then constantly share it with others. You will quickly find that you are not like anyone else in this world, beautifully unique and special, and have been given a special role to play unlike anyone else on earth. This is the truth, the Gospel and the Good news, shared amongst us today!