OPTION 2: There was a story of a Chinese boy who came from a very poor family in Hong Kong never dreamed that would go far. His parents left him behind to do some housekeeping job in Australia. Gifted with talents and skills for doing stunts and acrobatics, he developed and cashed in on these until he rose to become a famous movie actor multi-millionaire and Asia superstar. That is Jacky Chan, the Kung Fu kid.
We are given by the Lord, different talents. Like for example, some of us are good in singing, dancing, talking, doing monkey business (joke only), some are good in the arts, mathematics, sciences and others and sometimes our talents are very unique from others. All of us have a talent. We cannot say: “I don’t have a talent….I don’t know how to sing….I don’t know how to dance,” and so on and so forth.
The Church continues to reflect about the end of the world and the end of our lives. Last Sunday we were asked to reflect on the ten virgins (“five wise and five foolish”) and taught us to be ready to meet the Lord. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King which opens the last week of the liturgical year of the Church.
In today’s Sunday Gospel points out, through the parable of the talents, the difference between being ready and being unready when the Lord returns to settle accounts with us. Jesus gives us a parable that the Kingdom of God is like a man travelling to a far away land and called his three servants to take care of some of his possessions. One servant has great ability because he gives 5 talents 5,000 or silver pieces. The second has average ability since he gives 2 talents or 2,000 silver pieces while the third had little ability because he just gives 1 talent or 1,000 silver pieces. The first two servants immediately made their talents work and doubled the number of talents the master gave them but the servant who received only one talent buried it because of the fear that he may lose it. When the master came back without the servants knowing it, the first two servants who made their talents worked reported what they did with the money and the master was very happy with them and he gave what the two servants earned to them. But when the last servant told the master that he was afraid to lose the money and buried it, the master became angry and he gave the one talent to the servant who earned ten talents.
Most of us think of a talent as some kind of special ability, gift or skill. In Jesus’ time, a talent was a measure of money. We can understand the talents in today’s gospel as symbols of any of the gifts God has given to us, especially our faith and we use these gifts to build His kingdom. Everyone has received something from God. Life itself is a talent. Time is a talent. Treasure is a talent. They are talents we have to invest. The greatest gift God has given to us is the Gift of Himself.
But what is the deeper meaning behind the parable? What point was Jesus making through it? What does the wealthy man stand for? What is the journey he went on? What do the three servants stand for? What does the talents or silver pieces were given stand for?
The wealthy man, who went on the journey, stands for Jesus, who ascended into heaven after His resurrection and his physical absence from the world. He will return again at the end of the world. The three servants stand for you and me, for Christians who, through baptism, accept Christ as the Master. The talents (v 15) represent the faith that God gives us through baptism. His coming home is the parousia, the second coming of the Lord. In His absence, Jesus expects us to use the talents, which is our faith, as well as the time and treasure that God has given to us to work for the spread for God’s Kingdom on earth. When Jesus returns, He will not save us anymore but judge us on how well we used our talents, time and treasure for the Kingdom.
Roger Bacon, as quoted by Fr. Simplicio Apalisok in his homily book, outlined four critical questions to ascertain our talents and abilities. First, what is it that we love to do? We cannot do well what we hate to do. Somehow, there is a particular activity/task that we never get tired of doing.
Second, what will we do for free? If we work on something without the thought of financial reward, we work as we play. Some people identify this as a sense of fulfillment, others calls this the sense of mission in life. We may describe this as a social responsibility and service is what we pay for the space we occupy in this world.
Third, what comes easy for us but difficult for others? We may not be seven-footer to dunk the ball into the basket NBA players like Yao Ming or Shaquile O’Neil. But certainly we have other qualities that we can develop and maximize.
Fourth, ask the people who know us best: What can they say us that we can do best? Well-meaning fellow humans can give us honest to goodness feedback on our potentials.
Another one is, Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, in his homily, asked this question, ‘What is in a name?’ and said that each one of us has three names: the name we inherited from our family, the name given to us by parents and the name we have made for ourselves. The first two are given while the last one is made. Likewise, we had our God-given talents. We were born with them. But like our given and inherited name, we can either maximize or waste our talents. The choice is really up to us. The choice is ours too if we will use our talents for goodness or for evil. Are we living up to our name? What name are we making for ourselves? Are we living up to our talent? What are we making out of our talents?
At the end, let us remember this that the parable teaches us also about accountability. We shall be made to render an accounting of our gifts, whether that be material or whatever. Do we earnestly seek to serve God with the gifts, talents and graces he has given to you? Are we responsible? Do we use them for the good of all or for our own selfish interest?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A