So you think you’ve got talent?

talentsAlthough I am a big fan of Jesus’ stories, I have to admit that this has always been my least favorite parable. In fact, if I had been His editor at the time, I might have suggested He cut this one from the book. (Either that or asked Matthew to rework the ending.) It’s not that I don’t understand the overall message Jesus was trying to send, but I’ve always believed that some people have no business gambling with their talent and that they are better off leaving well enough alone.

Throughout the course of my life, I have been a “sure thing” kind of girl. I do not buy lottery tickets. I do not play Texas Hold ‘Em. I have never been to a Bingo hall, a riverboat casino and I have never had the desire to go on one of those reality competition shows in hopes of landing a multi-million dollar record deal. I’m not judging those who do, but I can’t see the point of getting my hopes up over a potential pay off when I’m more likely to be left with feelings of regret when I lose. Sure, I understand that my talent is a gift from God and what I do with it is my gift to Him…but I can think of a hundred ways that could end badly, so what’s wrong with simply keeping it safe and sound while letting no harm come to it?

Jesus never explains what exactly a “talent” is as it pertains to this parable, but based on the context of the story, it’s not something to be showcased in front of Simon Cowell and Company in hopes of landing a spot on next week’s show. Rather, it is some kind of tangible currency that can be invested into another entity in hopes of earning a future profit.

So in a plotline that somewhat reminds me of The Three Little Pigs, the first two guys, who are savvy businessmen, put their talents into a portfolio that causes their investments to double fairly quickly. However the third guy, who is not as confident, chooses to bury his talent rather than risk losing it. But when the master comes back, he calls the guy lazy and berates him for not putting the money in the bank where it could have at least earned a bit of interest.

As someone who took forever to select an IRA account that would meet my long-term goals without giving me short-term palpitations, I sympathize with guy number three. I wouldn’t want to risk losing everything I worked so hard for so why shouldn’t I be conservative with my talents? I always thought that was an admirable quality. Slow and steady wins the race. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A penny saved is a penny earned. An ounce of prevention is worth…you get where I’m going with this.

It always seemed to me that the master would have been upset if guy number three had done something completely reckless with his talent and came back with nothing, and personally,  that’s how I would have changed the story. However, I now understand that I would have been wrong. After all, a gift from “The Master” cannot lose its value. Its stock does not rise and fall with the Dow Jones. It can only grow or stay put. You can choose to develop your talent and let it take you farther than you ever dreamed possible. You can take a chance with it and learn a life lesson along the way. You can even be conservative with it and let it earn a small return as you figure out where the best investment is, but the worst thing you can do is bury it. To bury it is to pretend it isn’t there. And to deny the part of God that’s inside of you is truly the greatest gambling loss of all.

Today’s Mass readings: 1COR 1:26-31; PS 33:12-13,18-19, 20-21; MT 25: 14-30



About the Author

Julie Young is an award-winning writer and author from Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA, whose work has been seen in Today’s Catholic Teacher, The Catholic Moment, and National Catholic Reporter. She is the author of nine books including: A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin, The CYO in Indianapolis and Central Indiana and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism. She is a graduate of Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis and holds degrees in writing and education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She can be found online at

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  1. Thanks Julie for the reflection, we should be grateful to God and put to use the talents God has given us for our benefit and that of others. God Bless.

  2. In my experience, every time I use my talent and share it for free by teaching them how to do it, I found out that my talent was developed and increased.

  3. thanks so much for today’s reflection. but the question that has been bothering me each time I read this gospel text is, how can one truly identify his/ her own talent. is it possible that we can figure out this talents in us by ourselves?

  4. Julie, I think the real story here is God’s will be done. God never gives us a quick start guide on life. Instead we all fumble and fail at times. I am 72vyears old it took me 65 years but I think I finally understand at least a small part of the plan. The real message here is that God never fails, God never loses, it is up to us to keep seeking until we increase the “talent” God has given us.
    God bless you and your talent

  5. I think we are too inclined to give “talent” the modern definition. Talents were, and indeed are, thing of value, gifts given by God for us to use. And those gifts aren’t always something we Do, like the arts, or charities. Having good health is a talent, so is poor health, and how do we used those gifts to draw nearer to God? Every single thing in our life is a talent, a valuable gift, given us by our Master.

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