HOW TO TURN OUR TALENTS INTO TREASURES HOMILY: 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

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Australian pelicans have the most extended and beautiful beak or bill (as often called) among the other avian creatures. The beak should be about twenty inches long, and it could expand in size when they hunt to get food. One day, three female pelicans decided to visit a famous lake many hours away. They were excited as they fly through the sunny weather.

Suddenly, one of them thought to herself: “I will just display my beautiful bill for other animals and people to admire, so I will not bother picking anything by the lake.” The second also had similar thoughts. She said, I would have to pick just a few small fish in the shallow areas; I cannot risk hurting my beautiful beak.

The third pelican had a completely different thought. She said, “I am thankful for my long, beautiful beak. I will make optimal use of it today to get as much fish as I can from those deep areas rich with big fish. Getting to the lake, they all acted according to the scripts of their thoughts.

The first went about displaying her beak and getting all the attention from tourists and other birds. The second did the barest minimum with her bill, being careful not to hurt it. But the third went to the deep areas to catch fish, and she had a good meal. When it was time to go, the first could not fly because she had no strength to make the journey back as she was starving all day. The second tried flying but could not go too far because she had a little meal. But the third was up in the skies strong and able to make the journey back.

Everything we possess in life is for a purpose. Success is when you put what you have to the right use. In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 25:14-30), our Lord Jesus Christ tells us about the parable of the unfaithful servant.

In the narrative, a man was going on a journey to an unknown destination and calling his three servants together, he entrusted them with his possessions according to their abilities. He gave five talents to the first; to the second, two, and the third, he gave one talent. The one who got five talents traded with them and made another five more. The one who got two did the same and got two more. The individual who got one dug a hole in the ground and buried the talent.

The master returned after a long time and called them to render accounts. We already know what the first two servants accomplished with their talents. The master commended them as good and faithful servants and promised to give them greater responsibilities since they excelled in the little they were given.

The third servant got it all wrong to bury the talent he received from the master. He calls the master a demanding person who harvests where he did not plant and gather where he did not scatter. Imagine the arrogance!

Replying, the master called him a wicked and lazy servant and asked why he did not deposit his money with the bankers so that he could get some interests when he returns. Finally, the one talent was taken from him and given to the person with the ten, and he also lost his place in the master’s employment.

The Real Problems of the One-Talent Servant  

A very attentive insight into the parable shows that the one-talent servant had not just one issue but many attitudinal challenges. We shall explore these and how to overcome them to turn our talents into treasures.

Lazy Servant

Laziness is the unwillingness to do something even when one could do it. The designation lazy servant is an oxymoron because a servant has to serve, and when you say that a servant is lazy, it means that the purpose of serving is defeated.

The one-talent servant was a lazy bone. Notice that when the master delayed returning from his trip, he relaxed and became complacent and inactive. There is a close relationship between laziness and procrastination. The First Reading from the Book of Proverbs (31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31) gives us a contrast to laziness with the example of a worthy wife who is always willing to work with her hands.

Envious Servant

We become envious when we become dissatisfied with ourselves and wish that another person’s quality is ours. We cannot rule out that the one-talent servant was envious of the other two who got more talents than he got. There would be no guarantee that he could do better if he got more talents because we already know that he was lazy.

Furthermore, the narrative tells us that the master gave them the talents according to their abilities. So, the one talent fits into what he could do following the master’s knowledge about them.

Wicked Servant

In the Gospel of Matthew (23:13), Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees for locking out people from the kingdom of God. They would not enter nor allow people to enter. This aptly applies to the one-talent servant. His wicked heart made him stagnate the talent of the master for all the time he was away. He did not make gains from it and did not allow it to bring interest by depositing it in the bank; that is inconsiderate and wicked. The heart of the servant was evil.

Prideful Servant

It is not usually difficult to dictate a prideful person from the individual’s statement. Notice the audacity the servant uses to tell the master how demanding he is and how he harvests where he did not plant and gathers where he did not scatter. He was trying hard to justify his inability to use the one talent he got from the master. He was not humble enough to accept his laziness, envy, and wickedness.

He could also have over-rated his ability and felt that one talent was below his capability, which was pride. The Book of Proverbs (16:18) says that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before destruction.

Moving Forward: Turning your Talents into Treasure

The first thing we need to do is to appreciate whatever talents we have received from God. Next, there would be a need for us to activate our talents, which means being willing to work with it. The book of Proverbs (10:4) says that the lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. St. Paul would also add that anyone unwilling to work should not eat (2 Thess. 3:10). We need to snap out of the laziness of both the body and the spirit (sloth). Work out your salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

God has given gifts to each one of us according to our abilities. There should be no competition when it comes to talents. Envy distracts us from appreciating and using the skills we have received from God as we keep focusing on others. Notice that the envy of the one-talent servant could not stop the success of the others.

Moving forward, let us resolve to turn our talents into treasure by accepting, appreciating, and utilizing them not only for our personal development but also for the good of others and to the glory of God, the giver of every talent. Remember that the highest talent we have is love, which conquers everything (1Cor. 13:7).

Have a beautiful weekend and a glorious week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.  

                                      

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