In my eyes, this week’s Gospel is Jesus’ way of telling me that I need to stop and self-reflect. Am I the servant who uses the talents given by the master to multiply his wealth and work? Or am I more similar to the third servant who, out of fear, goes and buries the talents? First of all, I have to remember that everything I have (deep faith, loving family, comfortable wealth, reasonable intelligence, etc.) is a gift given to me by God. I must learn that every aspect of my life is centered on God’s many gifts and the countless challenges that come my way. Through this parable, Jesus asks me to think about what I am doing with the gifts and challenges he has given me and how I can improve my life and the world.
It takes prayer to realize what God is asking of us. Many of us who grew up in the Church would hear about the gifts of time, talents, and treasures. The church still utilizes that phrase periodically when trying to recruit volunteers and bolster the collection, but honestly, it is a question we need to ask ourselves regularly. Do we only utilize our gifts and talents to benefit ourselves and our families, or do we also use them to help our neighbors: the strangers, the homeless, the refugees, etc.? “Turning a profit for the Lord” can sometimes be daunting. We are all busy with work, family, and various life situations; trust me, God understands. However, we must be careful of it becoming our norm—using those same excuses repeatedly throughout our lives. Jesus is not asking most of us to change our lives radically. He is asking us to reflect and see how and where we are using our time, talents, and treasures to make the world better.
“Turning a profit for the Lord” does not solely apply within the confines of the Catholic Church. It can refer to many opportunities and outreach organizations in our local communities. As winter approaches, many local shelters need financial assistance and people to volunteer their time. We again see the Salvation Army Bell Ringers at our store entrances and the Marines’ Toys for Tots boxes asking for donations. The opportunities are endless, and not all needs are financially based. Many communities have food pantries; we can use our gift of time to help them out occasionally. I just received a notification that the Boy Scouts have a food drive in our area! We also have many veterans and elderly neighbors who need a helping hand. It could be as simple as raking their leaves and cleaning off the snow in their driveway this winter. The possibilities are endless for using our time and talents to make our world a little bit better place to live in.
This week’s question is, “How can I invest my talents to turn a profit for the Lord?” Through prayer, we each have to answer that question as individuals, with each of us having our own self-defining time, talents, and treasures. I can tell you that by taking the time to answer that question with an open heart and having the courage to act on it, you will experience the unexplainable joy of giving. Perhaps you can start living with the answer, “I can use my talents to become a prophet for the Lord,” for as Christians, that is our true calling.
May we all have the courage to start our day with this simple prayer: “Lord, what are we gonna do today?” – Deacon Arthur L. Miller, Archdiocese of Hartford