Use the Gifts I Have Given You

    There is an old story about two farmers visiting over a fence in early Spring. The first one said, "Jake, What are you going to plant this year, corn?" "Nope," Jake replied, "I am scared of those corn borers." "Well, what about potatoes?" his neighbor asked. "Nope, too much danger of potato bugs," said Jake. The neighbor pressed on, "Well, then, what are you going to plant?" Jake answered, "Nothing! I'm going to play it safe." In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a lazy servant, like Jake, who buried his talent instead of doing business with it.

    Like Jake, some people feel insecure and afraid to take risks. Some of our greatest needs are to discover our own talents and to express ourselves by taking risks. Unless we express ourselves, we cannot realize or fully understand our own talents. Sadly, a lot of talent goes unexpressed. It is in living that we discover our talent. Every talent has to be discovered. A lot of discipline, patience and hard work is required if a talent is to bear full fruit. We see this in the first two servants in Jesus ‘story. We see the opposite of it in the case of the third servant. It wasn't the harshness of the master that prevented him from using his talent, nor was it lack of opportunity. He himself was to blame.

    It has been said that our true birthplace is the place in which we awaken to our gifts and talents. Often it takes an outsider to recognize the talents. Just as the sun helps to bring to birth the fragrant flowers that lie hidden in the soil of the fields, so there are people who find their fulfillment in helping to unfold the talents God has deposited in others.

    There is a story of a thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman who would go to the movies and sigh, "If only I had her looks." She would listen to a singer and moan, "If only I had her voice." Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn't have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. As a result, she began to turn her liabilities into assets.

    When she was at the top of her career, she made over $1 million a year. In the 1960's that was a great deal of money. She wasn't good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh. That woman was Phyllis Diller (1917 - 2012). She was an American stand-up comedian, actress, author, musician, visual artist and best known for her cackling laugh.

    Maybe God is saying something like that to us through today's parable of the talents. We need to stop the ‘litany of complaints' and remember God continues to tell us, "Use the gifts I have given you!" Let us stop crying about what we do not have and start concentrating on what we do have.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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