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Updated: Dec 16, 2023


SE IT! 33rd Sunday, Year A

We need pay no attention to those who predict the exact time of the Lord’s return. Why? The scriptures clearly teach “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thes.)

We do well to be always prepared for the Lord’s coming, and to be busy using our gifts in the service of God. The parable of the talents teaches that the Lord, who “has gone on a journey”, and will return “after a long absence” expects His servants, to whom He has entrusted His possessions according to each one’s abilities, to be busy using His gifts in the building of the kingdom.

The parable tells us how three servants, who represent ourselves, responded to being entrusted “with his possessions”. Over a period of time, the one who received five talents and the one who received two talents doubled them. To both of them the master said: “Well done, my good and faithful servant, since you were faithful in small maters, I will give you greater responsibilities. Come share your master’s joy”.

He didn’t say the one with the five talents was more reliable or faithful than the one with the two talents. Each one was dealt with according to his or her use of the silver pieces, which matched their different abilities. They both managed well the master’s goods.

The third servant, out of fear of his master, and not thinking he had too much to work with when compared to the other two, buried his talent, and didn’t use it at all to further the master’s work. He received a strong rebuke from the master, who called him “a wicked lazy lout”. His talent was taken away from him and given to the other servants. Those who use the gifts given to them become capable of doing more. Those who don’t use their gifts not only lose their facility for the gifts, but lose the gifts to do other things that would develop from using the basic talents.

The parable encourages us to use whatever talents we have. We don’t need to be comparing ourselves with others. Rather, we need to compare our use of our gifts with our gifts, whether they be small, average or great. No two people are exactly alike. Each person stands in his or her unique circumstances and times.

We can strive to do what is possible for us according to our gifts, talents and circumstances. The three worked out their use of the gifts over “a long period”. We are not told what they went through in achieving the multiplication of the talents, or in failing to multiply the master’s possessions in the case of the one who was entrusted with one talent.

We too have a lifetime to use and multiply whatever gifts God has given to us. A good principle to follow is to do the possible at the time, whatever it might be in a given set of circumstances, with the gifts we have, and leave the results and the rest to God and others.

One principle seems clear. We are not to bury, hide or fail to use the gifts given to us. Those with average gifts, which includes the majority of people, may underestimate their value, and fail to use their gifts at all. Many hold back or bury their gifts out of fear, as the third servant did. We need to find a way to use our God given talents and gifts. We need a certain helpful fear of not using our gifts, instead of a paralyzing fear of using them. Concentration on the Lord and the needs of others helps overcome such fears.

The Book of Proverbs praises and gives us an example of “a worthy wife” who put into action a variety of talents, which affected others.

A servant by definition is to be alert and conscious of the master, and the master’s work and possessions. Knowing who we are and what we have received, can help us use what we have been given to the best advantage for the Lord. Paul admonishes us to be alert and ready servants for the Lord’s return, since “…all of you are children of the light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness (meaning the world of sin) nor of the night; therefore, let us not be asleep like the rest (with no awareness of the Lord’s coming or return) but awake and sober”. Using our gifts for the Lord brings fulfillment. “Happy are those who fear the Lord, and walk in His ways.” (Ps.128)

Be a reliable servant by using the talents the Lord has entrusted to you!

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