Today’s first reading from Corinthians starts out with Paul telling his brothers and sisters in Christ that, “Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” That probably summarizes most of us who are reading these words today. What a comfort this reading is for the average person.
This reading also says:
“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.”
Humility is something that many of us struggle with. Even if we are not very well educated, successful, or hold a prominent position in society, we can still have too much pride, which is often hidden, even from ourselves sometimes. Anytime a person can do something better than other people, the temptation dangles in front of us to be proud of the fact that we are more successful, smarter, better looking, or more talented than other people. Sometimes this is because of a lack of a sense of self worth too, though. If we have an inferiority complex, then we may subconsciously feel better about ourselves if there is anything, even something small, that we can do better than others.
Why is there such competition between people, in our families, especially our extended families, at school, at work, and in our communities? Even our parish communities can sometimes be competitive in the different ministries people are involved in. People can feel more important than others because of their education, looks, possessions or money. But, the way Jesus views people is not the same as the way we view one another.
The parable in today’s gospel is about increasing the talents, or money that a man gave his servants before he left on a long journey. But, if you notice, it wasn’t for the individual’s personal gain. The three servants were supposed to serve their master, and two of them did, by increasing their master’s assets while he was gone. The third one harbored a grudge against his master though, and didn’t do a thing while his master was gone.
It sounds like the third servant thought he shouldn’t be spending his efforts earning money for someone else. There are a lot of modern day workers who feel like this too. They resent working hard, for low pay, just to make the owners rich, so they do the least they have to on the job. The thing is though, these workers agreed to do the work when they were hired, at the wages that had been agreed on. If they do not like their job, the honest thing to do, would be to find another job. It really isn’t right to stay in a job you hate for the long term, if you have a choice. It isn’t fair to you, and it most certainly isn’t fair to your employer.
What the parable in today’s gospel says about increasing the master’s talents (money) could also mean our modern day talents though. When we grow better in what we do, and develop our talents more, then we will often be put in a better position and earn more pay. It also helps if you can work in something you have a natural interest in though, because your natural abilities will grow because of your interest in the subject.
The same principle about increasing our talents at work, can be put to work in the life of the church too, though. Is there a an interest or an ability you have, that you have never put to good use in the church? Are you a good cook, seamstress, painter, or love to garden or organize things? Do you have a gift as a manager, teacher, singer, musician, public speaker, event planner, accountant, decorator, artist, or do you just enjoy being with children?
These are all talents your parish community could really benefit from. Your talents could help a lot, in building up the body of Christ. If you do not already use your talents and abilities to serve the church, this weekend might be a good time to see where you could make time in your life to do so.
When you stand before the Lord one day, you surely don’t want to have to tell him, that you hid your talents from his people?
Daily Mass Readings:
1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 / Psalm 33 / Matthew 25: 14-30