November 15, 2020: Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner
This week, Jesus narrates the Parable of the Talents. Whereas this parable is notable for developing themes of stewardship, it also serves as a sterling standard for gauging the health of our relationship with God. As we come to the end of the liturgical year, the Parable of the Talents gives a summary of the best practices for fruitful faith. Three details of the parable suggest three stages of spiritual growth.
First, everyone receives a Talent. The first stage of growth in our faith is to consider what Talent(s) God has given to us. There are few more dangerous places to be spiritually than to be unaware of our gifts. Why? Because it means that we either don’t care enough about God’s gifts to identify them (indifference towards God) or we don’t think that we do have any God given talents (false humility). Both indifferentism and false humility kill love. Both are rooted in pride which is the origin of all sin. Recognizing what Talents God has given us is an often overlooked but essential spiritual practice. Ask yourself: “Can I identify my God-given Talents?”
Second, the Talents are not distributed equally. Though all receive some Talents, some receive more or less in comparison to others. We all know that inequality exists in life. Why would this be? God reveals the answer to the great Dominican mystic St. Catherine of Siena: “I distribute the virtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some to others. . . . I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, a living faith to that one. . . . And so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another. . . . I have willed that one should need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me. (St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogues I,7) In other words, the diversity of Talent distribution is part of God’s plan. He gives Talents with diversity so that we might be united together definitively. Just as we need God in order to thrive, so too we need others to both receive and share from what we’ve been given. Also, this reminds us of the temptation of comparison. When we compare ourselves to others and either judge them as less or more “talented,” we compromise our ability to humbly receive what we need and generously share the gifts we are called to be. Ask yourself: “What diverse Talents has God given me to share? Have I let the comparison of jealously or criticism impede appreciating what God has given me?”
Third, we have a responsibility to develop and share our Talents. The Master endowed his servants with Talents, not for their sake, but for the sake of the kingdom. Likewise, the Talents we’ve been given are not simply for our own blessing or happiness, but to build up the Kingdom of God. The lazy servant flops, not because he loses but because he buries his Talent. He allows the fear of failure to stunt the potential growth of his Talent. His anxiety of condemnation saps his imagination. The Master recognizes that failure is part of growth, but then criticizes the servant’s lack of creativity in burying his Talent. We are called not only to identify, but to work to cultivate the Talents we’ve been given. Ask yourself: “How have I developed the God-given Talents that God has entrusted to me?” “What fears bury my Talents?” “How can I be creative in activating them?”
~ Fr. Michael