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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – on the Gospel
Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Risk-takers and Care-takers
A man got mad with God. “God,” he said, I have been praying daily for three years that I should win the state lottery. You told us to ask and we shall receive. How come I never received all these three years I have been asking?” Then he heard the voice of God, loud and clear. “My dear son,” says God. “Please do me a favour and buy a lottery ticket.” This is not supposed to be a promotional for state lotteries. Rather it illustrates the saying: “If you wanna win, you got to play.” There are two kinds of people in our churches today: risk-takers and care-takers. The problem with care-takers is that they might show up at the undertaker’s with little to show for the lives they have lived. Jesus warns us against this in today’s gospel Parable of the Talents.
In the parable we hear about “a man going on a journey who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matt 25:15). From the beginning of the story we are told that the servant who received just one talent is a man of little ability. He is not a genius. Yet it is interesting to note that the master has a talent even for his relatively disabled servant. All God’s children have got their talents, even those who appear to have very minimal abilities in comparison with the more gifted ones.
The master departs and the first two servants “went off at once and traded” with their talents. The third servant, on the other hand, digs a hole in the ground and buries his one talent. Why does he do that? Because he is afraid he is going to lose it if he trades with it. He must have reasoned like this: “Well, those with more talents can afford to take a risk. If they lost a talent, they could make it up later. But me, I have only one talent. If I lose it, end of story! So I better play it safe and just take care of it.” Many of us in the church are like this third servant. Because we do not see ourselves as possessing outstanding gifts and talents, we conclude that there is nothing that we do. Do you know a woman who loves to sing but who would not join the choir because she is afraid she is not gifted with a golden voice? Do you know a young man who would like to spread the gospel but is afraid he does not know enough Bible and theology? When people like this end up doing nothing, they are following in the footsteps of the third servant who buried his one talent in the ground.
The surprise in the story comes when the master returns and demands an account from the servants. First, we discover that even though the first servant with five talents had made five more talents and the second servant with two talents had made two more talents, both of them receive exactly the same compliments: “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (verses 21, 23). They are rewarded not in proportion to how many talents each has made but in proportion to how many talents each of them started off with. Booker T. Washington was right on target when he said that “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles that one has overcome while trying to succeed.”
There are more reasons than one why the third servant decided to hide his talent. Maybe he compared himself to the other servants with more talents, saw himself at the bottom rung of the ladder, and became discouraged. He did not realise that with his one talent, if he made just one more talent, he would be rewarded equally as the servant with five talents who made five more. We are not all measured by the same rule. To whom much is given, much is required.
All of us in the church today have received at least one talent. We have received the gift of faith. Our responsibility as men and women of faith is not just to preserve and “keep” the faith. We need to trade with it. We need to sell it to the men and women of our times. We need to promote and add value to faith. This is a venture that brings with it much risk and inconvenience. But, unless we do this, we stand in danger of losing the faith just as the third servant lost his talent. The way to preserve the faith, or any other talent that God has given us, is to put it to work and make it bear fruit.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Homily # 1
My dear friends, this is the harvest season, the fall of the year. Just as the farmers have high hopes of having good crops, so also God expects a return on his investment in each one of us. Our problem is, we don’t know when our harvest day will come about.
Each person comes into the world with talents from God. We don’t know if they are 5 talents, 2 talents, or one talent. What counts is what do we do with the talents God gave us. We received both natural and supernatural talents from God. Our natural talents enable us to work for our daily bread and support ourselves. Our supernatural gift helps us to grow in the love of God and neighbor.
Dear parents, if you have a young adult, may I suggest that to help them discover their talents; consider what it is that they do well. That will give some indication of what talents God has given them. Instead of preparing them for a job that will give them the most amount of money, why not consider helping them to develop the talents God gave them so that they will live a happy and fulfilled life.
A few simple questions may help those young adults to discover what talents God gave them. Do they like to work with people or things? With their mind or with their hands? Do they like technology and mathematics or do they like poetry and painting? Seeking God’s guidance, we can help our children discover what gifts they have received from God.
A lot supernatural gifts are not at all complicated to use. For example, we can volunteer to help the Church with everything from teaching religious education to setting up chairs. We can teach our children to pray before meals. We can visit the elderly and shut in people. Those who are elderly and not able to get out can pray for vocations, for seminarians, for conversion of sinners and for the spread of the Church throughout the world. There are many good things we can do to help spread the Kingdom of God on earth.
God expects us to use the talents we have received from him to help grow the Kingdom of God on earth. The question is how is our harvest at this point in our life? At least three times in the gospels, Jesus let’s us know that he expects a return on his investment in us. In addition to today’s gospel, we have two other stories from Jesus that tell us how important it is to use our talents.
Here is a quick peek at two of them. In Luke 13:6-9 Jesus told a parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.
Matthew 21:18-20 When Jesus was going back to the city in the morning, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went over to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again.” And immediately the fig tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed and said, “How was it that the fig tree withered immediately?”
God greatly rewards us for our efforts to help him. In the first reading today the good wife received praise from God. She not only helps her family but the poor as well. In the Psalm refrain today, the good husband is rewarded in his family. I recall my dear mother and how she prayed each night for seminarians. We prayed the Rosary each night as a family and she always remembered to pray for seminarians. When she died there were 42 priest and two monsignors at her funeral. Good Lord rewards us well.
My dear friends it is autumn and the farmer’s crops have been harvested. To this point in our life how is our crop coming along? Is it ready to be harvested? Will the Lord be pleased with our crop? Let us humbly beg our Blessed Savior to help us bring forth a rich harvest for the Kingdom of God by the way we live our daily life on earth.
Homily # 2
As we try to apply today’s gospel to our lives there are many phrases we can think of to do this. “Use it or lose it”, “Do your best”, “Take advantage of every opportunity”. All of these phrases could be used as a springboard to a homily. However, I would like to explore two topics. First, we’re all treated the same by God and secondly, He doesn’t ask that we win but only that we try.
The man that was given five talents doubled them and had ten so he wound up the richest of the three. The second man had 3 and he wound up with six and Jesus didn’t tell him he should have had 12 but said, “Well done, you increased your investment.” Both men did something with what they had and that so the were rewarded. However, the third man did nothing to enhance his wealth … rather he buried his coin.
Was Jesus saying we should all make more money, make twice as much next year as we did this year? No, that’s not the point because Jesus’ message in coming to earth didn’t apply to material wealth. Jesus
message was that everyone was given the same spiritual gifts and our success will be determined by how we handle those gifts.
Isn’t it true that we can all be generous to those in need? Isn’t it true that we can all obey God’s commandments our parents and our just superiors? Isn’t it true that we can all love, protect and guide our children? There are a multitude of gifts we have been given and God merely asks that we use those gifts properly … to use the gifts WE that we increase our capacity to love Him, to obey Him and worship Him.
It doesn’t matter whether we are millionaires or paupers. It doesn’t matter if we are the President or just a normal working individual without great power or wealth. Must we be powerful to “love one another as I have loved you?” Must we be as wealthy as August Busch (mention a local or national figure — Bill Gates, etc.) to help the poor. The answer is “No.”
Jesus gave the three men men different initial gifts but did not expect them to all wind up WITH he same amount of money. He expected them to use what they had been given and make that gift grow.
Every one of us are given the ability to love our family and our neighbor, obey the commandments, to pray in thanksgiving for what we have. This list could go on and one and we are all given the same opportunity …maybe not the same initial resources but we all have the same opportunity.
`And so, what to we do with this opportunity. Remember< Jesus gave the talents to each “according to his ability.” That’s the key! We have all been given talents according to our ability but we will all be asked some day. What did you do with what I, the Lord, gave you?”
I can picture God asking married men and women, “Were you faithful to your spouse?” Everybody has the same same ability to be faithful but will everyone be able to say “yes”, I was.” He may ask those who are priests, “Were you faithful to your vows?” To the young people here He may ask, “Did you obey your parents, even when you were away from your home on weekends?”
In the future, when He asks us those questions He already knows the answer …. and that’s the problem! We can’t wait until the question is asked because we must do something NOW to make sure we can give Him the proper answer. He may ask us about every one of the commandments, ask us about every time we were unfaithful or did not obey those who had a right to expect obedience.
We may feel no one is keeping track of what we do but, someday, He’s going to ask us about everything we did just as he asked the three men about what they did. He congratulated the two that had used their time and talent properly but to the one who did not, He says, he Master was not happy and said, “Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside.”
Let’s be honest. We may not think about it very often but that’s exactly what God has said to each of us. “Keep my commandments, obey your father and mother, be faithful to your spouse.” Right now I’m thinking of how I’ll measure up when that time comes. We’re all in the same boat.
So, today, as we all come to Communion, I think it would be a good idea to ask ourselves, “Am I burying my spiritual talents in the ground? Am I not using my time and my energy as God has asked of me?” If any of us, me included, answers “No” to that question, we don’t want to wait until
THE MASTER COMES BACK TO SETTLE ACCOUNTS WITH US!!!.
Water and wine
By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:49:00 11/16/2008
THE story is told about a tourist in the Holy Land who wanted to have his picture taken on top of a camel.
“It’s free,” said the camel owner, and up the tourist went in glee. But when the tourist wanted to go down, the camel owner said, “That would be $2.”
“But you said it’s free!” the tourist remonstrated.
“Yes, riding on the camel is free, but getting down from the camel, that’s $2 you have to pay,” said the camel owner.
Now, that’s what I’d call talent of the first degree!
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 25, 14-15, 19-21) Jesus talks about the parable of the talents, with the admonition that we be faithful and responsible in handling the talents that God has given us. We all will give an accounting of our talents someday. Let us make sure that we are not burying nor abusing the talents given to us by God.
* * *
Water signifies that which is gratuitously given to us by God. Wine, however, is that which has been processed by us, the fruit of our labor, hard work and sacrifice. Our God-given talents are the water of our lives. The product of our talents is the wine of our lives, which we offer back to God. As we go through life, let us be busy turning our water into wine. And, let us make sure we are giving back to this world and to God, good wine.
* * *
There is an added aspect in our water and wine analogy, and that is, wine can become vinegar, which is sour. There are people who abuse their talents, and in the process, spoil the wine they have produced in life. Consider a public servant who works hard to get elected, but in the end, uses his/her power for self-aggrandizement and self-betterment. Such people abuse or misuse their talents which have been given to them by God for His kingdom and for service to others, especially the “little ones.”
* * *
I am writing this column in the Holy Land, where I am in the company of 46 Filipino pilgrims. We have here a very talented group, and it is a very edifying experience to be with them. Why? Because there are no superstars or wannabe-superstars among them. Instead, there is so much goodwill, respect, sharing and caring toward one another. Everybody contributes to the building up of the community spirit and the Body of Christ. How heartwarming it is when people are aware of their talents; more so, when people put their talents humbly and joyfully in the service of the Giver of all talents!
* * *
One can’t help but admire the Israeli people for turning their arid land into a rich agricultural land. On the other hand, one can’t help but feel sorry for our land—so blessed with bountiful natural resources, and yet its people are going hungry. Why? Because we have too many leaders who are vinegar makers.
* * *
The difference between water and wine is the difference between a successful life and a meaningful life. And so it is that some people live successful lives—that is, they become rich, powerful or even famous by sheer talent and hard work. However, their lives, though comfortable, are empty because they never reach out and affect other people; they have left the source of their talents out of the picture. Water is that which is given to us. Wine is that which we give back to the world and to God. The place and the time for the payback is in your here and now.
* * *
Many of us can be faulted with the fact that when it comes to money matters, we are zealous and diligent in the use of our talents. But when it comes to spiritual matters, we are lazy and calculating. Someone once remarked that when it comes to praying or doing some apostolate, our usual response is “walang oras (we have no time).” But when it comes to worldly activities like gambling or drinking, our enthusiastic response is: “walong oras (we have eight hours)!”
* * *
“To whom much is given, much is also required.” This passage from the Bible should remind us that we will have to give a final accounting to the Giver of talents someday. When that day comes, may we come before God’s presence and be able to say to Him: “Mission accomplished, Lord!” And may we hear Him tell us: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
* * *
For those who, for whatever reason feel discouraged and burdened by failures, listen to this: At 31, this man failed in business; at 32, he was defeated in a legislative race; at 34, he failed again in business; at 35, his girlfriend died; at 36, he had a nervous breakdown; at 38, he lost in another election, and in more elections at 43, 46, 48; at 55, he lost a senatorial race; finally at 60, Abraham Lincoln, the man who never gave up, was elected president of the United States of America. Yes, let us all continue turning water into wine.
* * *
An advice to the young: Know your talents, and develop your talents. An advice to the middle-aged: Use and maximize your talents, but don’t abuse your talents. An advice to the old: Prepare for the final accounting of your talents, and pass on your talents to the world you leave behind.
* * *
Let us be consoled with the Lord’s words today: It is not so much our big achievements but our faithfulness in small matters and responsibilities that matter in the end. Yes, let’s all do whatever we can, even in “our small way,” to serve God and humanity.
* * *
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help me to turn the water in my life into wine. Amen.
What you are is God’s gift
By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD
SOMEBODY once said: “Einstein had a Great Mind; Newton, a Brilliant Mind; Bill Gates, an Extraordinary Mind; a Pinoy politician, Never Mind!”
* * *
Some years ago, a young Filipino girl who studied in the US made big news because she had an extraordinary mind. Maricel Aragon-Yicks, a relative of the late Commonwealth Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, finished her grade school in two years.
At eight, she graduated from high school, and at eleven, she took up not one but two courses simultaneously — law and medicine! Everybody considered her “super extraordinary,” a “bionic” girl.
* * *
There are many others who possess super extraordinary gifts. Think of astounding minds like Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, who was imprisoned and afterwards executed for “illegal possession of deadly ideas.” Consider too such legendary figures in sports like Michael Jordan or our Efren “Bata” Reyes, called the “magician” in billiards or beauty and talent like Miss Paula Henry recently crowned “Miss Earth,” the first Filipina to win the title.
* * *
We might be tempted to ask, “Why am I not like them?” “Why am I not blessed with good looks or with a musical ear or sports skill?” “Does God have favorites?”
Christ’s parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30) in this 33rd Sunday’s gospel gives us a glimpse of the answer. It tells us that God DOES give gifts, but in different degrees to everyone.
As the parable shows, one receives five talents, another two, and still another one.
* * *
Just why there is inequality of talents is a mystery. But think about it: Wouldn’t it be a boring world if everybody were all geniuses and superstars? Somehow some people have to applaud heroes and superstars as they pass by.
* * *
Despite the inequality, everybody gets sufficient qualities to work with. It is not how many one has that matters, but HOW one uses his or her gifts. What God demands is that a man should use to the full the abilities which he possesses. Indeed, men are not equal in talent; but men can be equal in effort.
* * *
The man in the parable who received one talent was not condemned because he had only one. He was condemned because, by burying it in the ground, he failed to use it. “You should have deposited it in the bank to earn interest,” the king said.
* * *
Christ’s parable of the talents also teaches us about ACCOUNTABILITY. Just like in the servants in the parable, we shall be made to render an accounting of our gifts, whether that be a material wealth, a money-making skill, an ability or a position we may hold. Did I use them for the good of people or only for my selfish enjoyment or, worse, to amass ill-gotten wealth?
* * *
Do you still remember that young man who graduated at the head of his class some years ago? He was gifted with business acumen, becoming a multi-millionaire in no time. But this man acquired talent to abscond over R500 million from numerous banks, a huge amount in the 1980s. Some of the banks were so bled dry that they virtually went bankrupt.
* * *
With all his multi millions, is he a happy man? Until now he’s a fugitive, hiding and hunted down by police authorities. Thus the truism “sin is its own punishment” is applicable here.
Related to accountability is the SOCIAL dimension of our talents. God’s gifts are given exclusively for oneself and relatives but its fruits ought to be shared with others, especially with the less fortunate.
* * *
Jackie Chan, movie star, kung fu kid and comedian came from a very poor family in Hongkong. Through hard work and maximizing his talent doing stunts and acrobatics, he rose to become a multi-millionaire and superstar.
“We were very poor then,” Jackie Chan recalls. “The Red Cross gave me milk, rice, clothes.”
* * *
But when he became a wealthy superstar, he never forgot the poor from where he rose. Jackie Chan put up a charitable foundation, awards scholarships to needy students and gives hefty donations to the elderly and disabled.
* * *
Are you putting to maximum use your God-given talents and resources? Are you using them only your self but also to help the less fortunate and less gifted?
“What you are is God’s gift to you; what you become is your gift to God.” Think of that.
Reflection on the Gospel for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A (Mt.25:14-30)
We are given by the Lord, different talents. Some of us are good in singing, dancing, in the arts 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 to dance” and many more.
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God is like a man travelling to a far away land and called his servants to take care of some of his possessions. The master gave five talents to the first servant, two to the other one and one to the last servant. 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.
This Sunday, let us also reflect on the readings preceding the Gospel. The First Reading is taken from the Book of Proverbs, it tells the attitude of an ideal wife. The wife should be zealous, respectful and hard working. The Psalm is also about being zealous and the Second Reading is about the warning of St. Paul to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them. He told the Thessalonians that the day of judgment will come like a thief in the night, we do not know the hour or the day of arrival. In the parable, Jesus wants us to be ready, to use our time wisely and to be zealous. God gave us talents based on our capabilities. He will not give it to us if we could not do it. If God gave you the talent to sing, show it and be proud of it. I always tell my choir to give the best they can because they are singing to God who called them to serve Him as choir members, meaning, God brought you to that choir to use it and develop it like the first two servants. Developing your talent would eventually become a great help for others, you can share that blessing to others and be a blessing to them. Let us use our talents for God’s Glory and for His people.
While reading the Gospel, for me I reflected the talents as our lives, the most valuable gift of God to us. God gave us our life so we may use it for His Greater Glory, to share what we have to others. God brought us to this world with a purpose, with a specific mission. We must take risks to fulfill that mission. We may suffer a lot fulfilling that mission but in the end we may realize that the mission we fulfilled that caused us a lot of suffering has been a benefit for others and especially for us. It is our way to Salvation. Let us imitate the two servants who used their time wisely and has doubled their talents and don’t be afraid for the Lord is with us and will guide us (Isaiah 43:1). Let’s take risk for our salvation, take risk in fulfilling God’s plan for us. Yes, fear is natural because we are human, but we can overcome that fear because God is with us. As St. Paul said to his letter to the Philippians: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)
By: Fr. Carlolayta
Homilies by Msgr. Lope Robredillo
Our Creative Response to God’s Gift of Salvation
- November 10, 2011 9:58 am
Homily on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Year A (Matt 25:16-30)
Nov 13, 2011
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
“PARISIAN Life” is now a 120-year-old painting of Juan Luna’s, depicting a woman in a café, on the right side of which are Juan Luna himself, Jose Rizal and Ariston Bautista Lin in a huddle. A few years ago, it was auctioned off by Christie’s auction house in Hongkong where the painting was the second top selling lot, and Winston Garcia, who was then GSIS president and general manager, won the bid at P46 million, but the GSIS would have to pay a premium of 10% of the final bid price. When GSIS won the bid, Garcia was quoted to have said that we were buying not a masterpiece but a piece of Philippine history. But he got a lot of flak. Sen. Manuel Villar said that while Garcia’s objective may have been noble, the welfare of the GSIS members should have been his primary consideration. According to Sen. Teresa Aquino-Oreta, the GSIS should have funneled a hefty part of the money to the members in the form of more benefits, if indeed it was awash in money. Complained Bayan Muna Rep. Crispin Beltran: “For years, members have been demanding better services and increased package of benefits from the GSIS. But what they give us are questionable investments, behest loans and ‘barya-baryang’ yearly dividends which are not even commensurate to the amounts we have contributed.”
For many, the people’s money in the GSIS was not invested in a right place. Which reminds us of the third servant in today’s parable of the silver pieces: he placed his master’s money in the wrong place. But that is going ahead of the story’s point. To begin with, the parable, like last Sunday’s, is clearly allegorical, although as Jesus himself told it, it probably had a different point. Most likely, it was intended for the Jewish religious authorities, such as the scribes and the Pharisees, who like the third servant, were so much concerned with the preservation of the religious tradition they had been entrusted with that they refused to hear the new message that Jesus brought. But this main point has given way to allegorization. As it stands in Matthew, the master’s invitation “Come, share your master’s joy” (Matt 25:21b) obviously refers to the messianic banquet in the Kingdom of God. The servants (v 14b et passim) stand for Christians who, through baptism, accept Christ as their master. The silver pieces (v 15) represent the faith that God gives them through baptism. And the “going away” and the long absence of the master (v 15b, 19a) refer to the journey of Christ to heaven and his physical absence from the world. His coming home (V 19) is the parousia, the second coming of the Lord. The early Church moralized the parable with the addition of the saying, “Those who have will get more until they grow rich, while those who have not will lose even the little they have” (v 29). Concerned with the coming eschatological event, it is now a parable of judgment.
While it is true that in this allegorization the story revolves around the three servants to whom the master disbursed his silver pieces, it gives far greater attention on the third servant. In the dialogue between the master and this servant, the former sharply rebuked the latter for his failure to do something with the silver pieces entrusted to him. This unproductive servant is held up as an bad example of one who, having been entrusted with capital, was more concerned about himself and thus about keeping the money intact—an attitude which, in Matthew’s redaction, shows his lazy and sterile life. Because his desire was security, however false, he was unable to obey the master in a very creative way, unlike the two other servants who made capital gains. If Matthew dwells at length on this lazy and unproductive servant, it is because the parable is meant to teach us that the gift of faith given to us at Baptism must grow while we await Jesus’ second coming so that, upon his return, we can give a good account on what we have done to the faith we received. This growth of faith is our creative response to the offer God has given us, while living in the period between now and Christ’s arrival at the end of time.
What does this mean? Like the first servants who, having received five thousand silver pieces, went to invest it and made another five, so we must be believers whose faith grows and bears fruit. Or, if we look at the parable as an allegory on the membership of the Kingdom at the end-time, we are supposed to work out our salvation in the same way that the first two servants invested the master’s money. Of course, salvation is God’s grace (Titus 3:5), but our part is to make a creative and proper response to it. In the second reading (1Thess 5:16), Paul expresses this in terms of being “awake and sober” (v 6)—“We who live by day must be alert, putting on faith and love as breastplate” (v 7). A productive faith is one that bears fruit in love. Thus Paul: “Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one another with the affection of brothers. Anticipate each other in showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord” (Rom 12:9-11). The first reading makes the same emphasis when it speaks of works: “Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates” (Prov 31:31). Of course, Paul himself makes a laconic expression of the growth of faith in love, when he says that in Christ what counts is “only faith that expresses itself in love” (Gal 5:6).
If the master was harsh with the third servant because he was concerned only with his own security, this implies that the growth of faith must benefit others. This brings to mind James’ assertion about unproductive faith: “If a brother or a sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day and you say to him, ‘Goodbye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed’, but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that? So it is with faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless” (Jas 2:14-17). Obviously, the parable stresses that like any gift, faith, no matter how small, is precious, and has to bear fruit for others. Which brings us back to the “Parisian Life.” One wonders, then, whether by buying the Luna painting, the GSIS was obedient to the mission of the institution in a creative way. No one disputes that the work of art was priceless, that its proper home should be the Philippines. But whether it was the GSIS that should buy the painting for P50.6 million, and whether it made a good creative and productive investment of the people’s hard-earned money, that is what is being disputed. At the end time, Jesus would dispute, too, the way the gift of faith has been invested—whether it grew, or it simply became fossilized.
Talent is lent
By: Fr. Jerry M. Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11:54 pm | Saturday, November 12th, 2011
The story is told about a señora who asked her maid: “Did you clean the surface of the keyboard of my computer as I ordered you to?”
“Yes ma’am, I did. Not only that, it was a little difficult, but I also rearranged the keys of the keyboard alphabetically!” was the maid’s eager response.
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 25, 14-30) Jesus tells us about the Parable of the Talents. God has given each one of us talents. We are to discover, develop and put in good use whatever talents we have received. Our talents must not be hidden or put to waste, but must be maximized and shared. There will be a final accounting of our God-given talents at the end of our lives.
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Are some people more gifted than others? Yes. Some have received more natural endowments than the rest of us. By worldly standards, this may sound unfair, but everything evens up at the final accounting when each one of us will be judged not according to the quantity but according to the development and use of our talents. Yes, to whom much is given, much is also required.
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When I was a first-year high-school seminarian in Christ the King Seminary, circa 1966, all 44 of us in our class wanted to learn how to play the guitar. All of us had the ability, the time and the means to do so. Some of us learned, and some of us did not. Some of us learned faster and with ease, while some of us, including myself, had to put in lots of hours and hard work. The bottom line is that there is no shortage of talents. There can only be shortage of willingness and diligence.
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In our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our group was so inspired by Irwin, a young man who walked with crutches, and joined us in all the pilgrimage sites we went to. What an inspiring sight to see him descend the cave of the Nativity, climb up the Mount of the Beatitudes, or do the Stations of the Cross at the Via Dolorosa. Our hearts were clapping for this brave and willing young man who did not let his handicap prevent him from moving on.
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Equally heartwarming was the support of his parents, Bansan and Isabel, and his wife Rina. They were there not only to help but also to challenge Irwin. Yes, blessed are they who have talents, but blessed too are they who help others discover and use their talents.
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On a personal note, I remember Papa telling me in my younger days, “You will write someday, Jerry.” He pointed out to me a potential, and a possibility, and encouraged me to make it a reality. My writing talent is simple and ordinary from the literary or journalistic point of view, but it is a result of hard work, a labor of love, a service for others, and all for the glory of God.
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The proper use of any gift, any talent, any charism is not for oneself, but for others and for the glory of God. We fail when we hide our talents. We fail too when we abuse our talents. At the end of our lives, may we have little or no regrets that we did not use or did not share enough of our talents and charisms, and also our resources.
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There are people who are very talented in making money, and are also very diligent at it. However, that’s only half of the story. They too must be good and generous in sharing the money they earn. Remember, we must use our money for our salvation, not for our condemnation.
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There is no substitute for hard work. The truth of the matter is that successful people become so not so much because of talent, but because of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. As in the parable of the monkey and the turtle, many of us are like the turtle who make progress by sticking out our necks, and taking one step at a time.
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By the way, there will always be critics and self-proclaimed analysts who will have something to say about our talents. Remember that in every game, the players who perform are quiet, while the spectators make noise. Let us not be distracted, for beyond performance is commitment, beyond applause is dedication.
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I would like to thank Mike Socco, Marilu and Rolly Sison, and Ester Magleo for responding to the appeal of Bang Yumul to make Christmas happier for her daycare youngsters. Please use your talent called “sharing” and “generosity” especially this Christmas. It takes so little to make so many happy. Indeed, a little love goes literally a long, long way.
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Our talents are lent to us. Let us not hide nor keep them. Rather, let us generously share and lend them.
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Think about this: “I cannot do everything, but I can do something; what I can do, I ought to do; and with the grace of God, I will do it.” (Hellen Keller)
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A moment with the Lord:
Lord, thank you for the talents You have given me. Help me to use them for others and for Your glory. Amen.
KATAMARAN (Reposted): Reflection for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A – November 13, 2011
“Kung may balak kang gawin ngayon, wag mo ng ituloy, para me gagawin ka pa bukas…” Inspiring di ba? hehe… Ito ang motto ng mga taong tamad! Marahil ay nasasalamin din sa atin kung minsan ang ganitong pag-uugali. Mahilig nating ipagpabukas ang gawaing maari namang tapusin kaaagad. Ano ba ang kasalanang nagawa ng ikatlong aliping pinagkatiwalaan ng pinakamaliit na halaga? May ginawa ba s’yang masama? Di niya naman nilustay ang salapi ng kanyang amo sa sugal o sa bisyo. Ano ang pagkakamaling nagawa niya? WALA! Oo, ang pagkakamali niya ay wala siyang ginawa! At ito ang ipinagkaiba ng ng naunang dalawang alipin sa kanya. Mayroon silang ginawa sa salapi ng kanilang amo. Pinalago nila ito. Samantalang siya ay literal na sinunod ang bilin ng kanyang amo na “patubuin” ito. Ayun… ibinaon… akala niya, tutubo! Ito ay isang halimbawa uli ng “mirror parable” na sumasalamin sa bawat isa sa atin. Tayo ang pinagkatiwalaan ng Panginoon ng salapi. Iba’t ibang halaga ayon sa ating kakayahan! Ang salapi ay tumutukoy sa lahat ng mga biyayang ibinigay sa atin ng Diyos: kakayahan, katalinuhan, angking kagandahan, katangian, at maging kayamanan. Huwang nating ikumpara kung mas maraming tinanggap ang iba sa atin. Ang mahalaga ay pagyamain natin ito. Para tayong mga “container” ng tubig: May dram, may timba, may tabo… iba-iba ang laki ngunit ang mahalaga ay napupuno natin ito ng tubig! Sinlaki man ng dram ang biyaya mo ngunit wala namang tubig, ibig sabihin ay hindi mo ginagamit, ay balewala ito! Mabuti pa ang tabo na kahit maliit ay nag-uumapaw ang tubig at nabibiyayaan ang iba! Tandaan natin na tayo ay mga katiwala lamang ng Panginoon. Darating ang araw na susulitin niya ang mga biyayang ibinigay niya sa atin. Nakakatakot na marinig mula sa Diyos ang mga katagang “Masama at tamad na alipin!” sapagkat hindi natin pinalago ang mga biyayang ipinagkaloob niya sa atin. Bago matulog ay subukan mong gawin ito: Kumuha ka ng isang papel. Isulat mo ang lahat ng biyayang ipinagkaloob sa iyo ng Diyos. At tanungin mo kung nagagamit mo ba ito upang mapalago ang iyong sarili at makatulong sa iyong kapwa. May kuwento ng tatlong magkakaibigang hayop na nagpapayabangan kung ano ang kanilang naibibigay sa kanilang amo. Ang sabi ng manok, “Ako… buwan-buwan ay kung magbigay ng itlog sa ating amo. Yun lang? Ang sabad ng kambing. Ako araw-araw ay nagbibigay ng sariwang gatas! Tahimik lang ang baboy. At sabi niya: Ako isang beses lang magbigay pero ang ibinibigay ko naman ay ang aking sarili… ang aking buong pagkababoy!” Ano na ba ang naibigay mo sa Diyos? Baka naman tinitipid mo siya? Baka tira-tira lang ng biyayang tinatanggap mo mula sa Diyos? O baka “ibinabaon” mo rin sa lupa ang mga ito? Ibigay natin ang lahat sa Diyos. Pagyamanin ang ating buhay na taglay at iaalay natin muli sa kanya. Sabi nga sa ingles: “Our life is a gift from God, what we make of our life is our gift to God!”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A