As a mother of 3, I can readily insert myself into the Gospel story. I can imagine being one of the servants receiving my 3 children as something being given to me by my master, God, to take care of. The story doesn’t indicate if the master gave any instructions to the servants of HOW to take care of the master’s possessions. I know, for sure, that I wasn’t given any instructions in receiving my 3 children.
The servants in the story who were rewarded were those who took the talents given to them…and somehow doubled them.
In first-century Palestine, the word “talent” meant a unit of coinage of high value. Today we think of “talents” as something we are able to do easily or that which comes naturally to us, but let’s put that aside for now. Let’s focus on talents as a unit of some value.
The servant that was given 5 talents and traded it for 5 more was rewarded. The servant who had 2 and made 2 more was also rewarded. But the servant who had 1 and buried it for safety so he could return it to the master was reprimanded. What if the servant who had 5 and traded it only had 1 or 2 or 3 to give back to the master? What do you think the master would say? The story doesn’t say.
All we know is that the servant who made use of what’s given to him was rewarded and the servant who buried what was given to him, out of fear of losing what he had, was reprimanded. I believe this is the point of the story. It’s not that the servants doubled what they had received. It’s that the servants who doubled their talents probably acted without fear. The servant who buried the 1 talent did so out of fear.
You may have heard that the phrase “be not afraid” or “have no fear” is the most common sentiment in the Bible. It is said that in some translations, there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible…one for every single day. Regardless of the count, the important takeaway is that God wants us to not be afraid. To live without fear. Or said positively, to live in trust.
Now, how does that translate to me and the children I’ve been entrusted to take care of? Can I see the desire of God that I live in trust as I mother my children? TOTALLY!!! When I was pregnant with my first child, I was told it was easier to take care of the baby while the baby is in my womb than when they are birthed. Motherhood isn’t easy. And one never knows if you’re doing it “right”. Like the servants, we are not given any instructions on what we are supposed to do with this precious human life we have been given. I think, from the perspective of anthropology, my job as a parent is to nurture responsible and mature adults who will contribute to society. Theologically, my role as a parent is to nurture their relationship with the Divine, to model for them what it means to be one of God’s creatures in this created world. I am asked to do this in trust. To fulfill my role in caring for what’s entrusted to me, without fear.
Some of you may not be parents. And while the role of caring for human life is something we all share, what else in your life could you say, specifically, that our good Lord has given you to take care of? And most likely given without instructions.
Today we speak of a “talent” as a natural ability or skill. Very much God-given. How are we called to take care of the talents given to us? Certainly, we are to use them without fear. To claim what God has given us, to make use of it, and to live boldly in trust. And when we do, the “talent” is multiplied. What might that be for you? What is the gift given to you for you to take care of...to share with the world...so it can be multiplied by God?
For me, it’s the talent of being with people. I can befriend all types of people. There are no strangers for me; just folks I haven’t yet met. I claim this now as a gift - my love for people and for meeting people as they are. And I live this out intentionally in many ways in my ministry.
But the MORE and the DEEP of it is this: our own very life is a gift entrusted to us by God. What have you done with your life? What are you doing with your life? What ought you be doing with your life?
Consider the Gospel’s invitation to share the talents entrusted to you, to share your authentic self with the world. Claim what they are. Live it. Share it. Boldly…in trust and without fear. Know that when we live and share in this way, there’s a promise of being multiplied by God! And if we all used our God-given talents, our God-given life in this way, we would be, in fact, cooperating with God in building…in realizing…a world where love, peace and justice reign
Rose Lue is a community organizer, justice advocate, and spiritual companion. She is passionate about people, community, and fullness of life. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a missionary doctor longing to provide healing and care to those who live on the margins. She still dreams of doing just that even though she ended up with a graduate degree in Pastoral Ministries instead of Medicine. (She is still laughing with God about this.)
Rose is an Advanced Lay Leader in the Diocese of San Jose, California, which means she has completed 7 years of formation along with the candidates for permanent diaconate. Rose currently leads the mental health ministry at her parish, serves on the diocesan committee for Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the strategy team for Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee (a group that’s growing a broad-based organization in the Bay Area). She is also a co-founder and leader of the Student & Alumni Network for the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries at Santa Clara University, board member of Bay Area Conference for Associates and Religious, Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and now Future Church.
She is also a wife, mother to three, and an active long-time member of St. Simon Parish in Los Altos, California. In her spare time, she likes to play games, various sports, and be outdoors.
The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world. The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.
“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association
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