Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

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Christopher J. Drennen, O.S.A.
Malvern Preparatory School
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Prv 31: 10-13, 19-21, 30-31
Ps 129: 1-2, 3. 4-5
1 Thes 5: 1-6
Mt 25: 14-30

The Gospel today has a play on words in English. A talent in Jesus’ time was a unit of coin of a large amount. A talent for us in English is of course the special gifts that God gives to each one of us. Whether we are talking about coins or gifts, the parable holds firm for us. What are we doing with the valuable things that God has entrusted to our care?

The parable reminds us that we are stewards of God’s gifts. They are given to us so that the Kingdom of God can grow. We do not take extra pride in what God has given us because they are not given to make us feel more important than someone else. They are given to be used for others and for the glory of God.

I am blessed to be working at a boys’ Catholic high school. It is easy to be impressed with those who excel in the arts, academics, activities and/or athletics. Some of these young men rise to the top in everything they do. Some are less obvious in their talents. They are the faithful workers who show up and do the unseen jobs that are needed to make a team or a club or a class work well. The same thing happens in the workforce and in friendship groups. Some talents are obvious; some are more quiet. Neither one is better than the other; both are needed for the Body to work well.

The challenge is to recognize our talent and the gifts God has given to us and make a return to the Lord. It takes wisdom, reflection, prayer and community to help us see our gifts. Once we think we know what are gifts are about we need to take the time and work to make them grow. Like the stewards who doubled their talents, we are called to double our graces by sharing them with others. If we bury our talents out of fear of failure, we will not be following the will of the Lord.

Why do some fear to fail? Failure is not part of our culture. We are taught to always succeed. We have students who are not happy without an ‘A’. Employees who shudder at job evaluation times. People scared of commitment or new relationships because of their fear of rejection. How many are happy just returning the talents to the master rather than fear of losing the investment. Think of how much more the world could accomplish if we didn’t feel paralyzed by fear of failure.

But as Christians, there is only one way we can fail: not trying. By not trying we are doubting the power of the grace of God to carry us through the day. Even if we try and do not find success as we hoped, we still have the satisfaction of trusting in God. Sometimes our plans are not God’s ways and “failure” is the way we learn the right path. Successful people in every field will tell us that they learn more from their “failures” than they do from successes.

God has blessed us abundantly. We are about to close our current liturgical year and start anew with Advent and a new year. Now is a good time to ask ourselves if we have tried to make good investments with our talents, or have we buried them in the ground out of fear of failure. Have we reached out? Have we tried? Have we found God’s way? We will find true success if we walk with the Lord, be confident in his power, and make those investments in our talents. If we start with little things, we will grow into more responsibility. For those who trust, more will be given and we will find true riches.