The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
November 19th, 2017 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Use it or lose it!” I am not sure where this saying originated but it could have been drawn from today’s gospel. It’s one that is familiar to most of us. Mention “the parable of the talents” and many will recall it. It is especially popular with accountants and financial managers. It touches on the world of investments and taking risks. It may even appeal to gamblers, now that I think of it.
It’s a story of success and failure. To those who used the talents given to them by God, especially “for others,” their goodness (and reward) doubled. To those who buried their talent and failed to use it for others, they lost it all.
Know that this is not a numbers games although Jesus uses numbers to make his point. It’s about giving and taking. The “givers” are abundantly rewarded for their actions, but for those who take what’s given them and don’t use it (“bury it” in this parable), all is lost.
“Using one’s talents” in the gospels involves letting go of what you have. You give it away. It is like the act of love, which basically means the giving of yourself for another. Jesus came to us as one who was set on giving his life for us. He held nothing back. He has been described as “the one for others.” All his life was devoted to helping others.
Saints, both those beyond and those among us, do the same thing. They take the talents given to them by God and they spend those talents on helping others. Rather than putting their talents in the bank, they give them away to those in need. Careful financial advisors may consider this overly risky, even foolhardy, but in God’s world, this is, in a sense, financial wisdom. A great investment!
Giving it away (whatever “it” may mean – a good example might be the time
and attention you give to someone who is lonely or discouraged) can at times feel like a loss. We are saturated with messages in our culture to be good to ourselves, to put ourselves first, to take care of “number one. But that’s not the rule of life in the gospels. Jesus says in another place that it is in giving that we receive. That may not make sense in the world of financial planning, but it makes great sense in God’s Kingdom of love.
©David M. Thomas, PhD