Reflection For The 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

                                         Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Suppose you asked people to name individuals with talents; chances will be high that they would mention several people, especially known names in various areas of excellence, but may exclude themselves from the list, and this will not be a matter of humility but ignorance.

Did you know that you have a talent or even talents? Your ignorance of the fact does not destroy the fact. Maybe you have not discovered it or don’t care about using it.

Significantly, millions of people die every year seeking success in life despite having excellent talents that could have turned their lives around for good. What if you are living with a great talent that has been untapped for all these years?

The First Reading (Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31) is one of the most remarkable passages in the Book of Proverbs because it is completely devoted to describing a capable, worthy, or virtuous wife. Consequently, many preachers and bible teachers use it as a standard for an ideal wife.

The writer, Solomon, who married seven hundred wives, was paradoxically asking where a worthy or virtuous wife can be found. He answers the question by presenting the values of such a worthy or virtuous woman, which include goodness, diligence, kindness, and the fear of God.

Question! Are these qualities meant only for wives? The answer is no! The scripture writers often use either male or female to communicate God’s expectations. So, the virtuous wife represents us, and the expectations are the same and are valid for all of us.

The Entrusted Talents

In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 25:14-30), our Lord Jesus Christ presents what God expects from us using the kingdom parable of the talents. A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. He gave one five talents, another two, and the last one talent, each according to his ability, then he went away.

Before continuing the story, let us look at some high points. First, he did not just give them the talents. The passage tells us that he entrusted them with his possessions. This is important because trust is involved.

Furthermore, he considered their abilities before doing so, which means the talents each received corresponded to the individual’s proficiency and industry. From this explanation, we can understand talent as an individual’s special ability or aptitude to do certain things naturally.

After a long absence, the master of those servants returned and asked them to give an account of their stewardship.

The one who received five talents made five more. The master commended him as a “good and faithful servant” and promised to give him more responsibilities and a share of the master’s joy. The master reacted similarly to the one who received two talents and made two more.

The servant who received one talent went to hide it away instead of using it. When the master questioned, he rudely explained that he hid his talent because the master was a demanding person who harvested where he did not plant and gathered where he did not scatter.

The master was furious and demanded that the wicked and lazy servant be thrown away into the darkness outside because of his lack of diligence with the one talent entrusted to him. Consequently, he did not get further responsibility and lost a share in the master’s joy.

Becoming Good and Faithful with Our Talents

Like the Ten Virgins in last Sunday’s parable, the servants represent all of us. God has entrusted us with talents tailored to our abilities and expects us to be functionally active with them for our good.

However, each one of us should come to the full knowledge and awareness of the abilities God has put into us and how we can function with them toward becoming “good and faithful servants.”:

Know Yourself and keep to your abilities: It is possible that the servant who received the one talent was measuring himself using the parameters of the other servants. After all, they were all servant and mates serving the same master. But he didn’t know that there are no talents-mates the same way we have classmates and course matés.

One of the best discoveries you can make in life is you. Know yourself and your abilities, and do not go after things above your natural means. Even David prayed (Psalm 131:1), “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.”

Be Diligent in all things: The Book of Proverbs (12:27) says: “The lazy do not roast their game, but the diligent obtain precious wealth.” It takes discipline and persistence to be diligent in whatever you do; this is the road a lazy person will not dare to follow.

One could imagine that the servant with one talent may have tried to do something, but he backed off when confronted with the initial difficulties of every task. No wonder the master called him a lazy servant. This teaches us to be diligent in all things, especially on the pathway to God, despite the possible challenges.   

Press on to the Target or Goal:  Writing to the Ephesians(3:12),St. Paul said: “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Life without focus on the target or goal may end in disaster. The servants who made returns from their talents excelled because they set their minds on the goal regardless of the challenges. Success is only attained when one’s diligence meets talents.  

Moving Forward: Can God Trust You with a Talent?

If God shows up with a talent for you, can you promise that you will be effective with it like the first two servants? This question is unnecessary because what it asks is already with us. God has entrusted each of us with talents in line with our abilities.

Could it be that you have not discovered your talent, or you are busy examining other people’s talents and wishing you had them instead? God has given you all you need to be productive in all spheres, including your spiritual life. You either use it or lose it.

God bless you.

Fr. Bonnie

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