Sunday Scripture reading, Nov. 15, 2020: Using our talents
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
2) 1 Thes 5:1-6
Gospel: Mt 25:14-30
Edith Eva Eger was an energetic, talented teenager when Nazis marched into her hometown city of Kassa, Hungary, to begin their cruel extermination of thousands of innocent Jews in that country. The Nazis forced Edith and her parents and older sister onto cattle trains bound for the concentration camps at Auschwitz.
There her parents would be murdered while the young girls experienced terror, starvation and unspeakable humiliations at the hands of the Nazi guards. As Auschwitz survivors, Edith and her sister pieced together their lives slowly but surely in the decades after the war. Edith went on to be a mother, a grandmother and a clinical psychologist devoted to helping others overcome life's challenges.
Last year, she wrote a book titled "The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life" recounting how her worst experiences became her best teachers and how she chose the gift of hope in the dehumanizing events of the war. When she wrote the book, her second, she had just turned 92!
Each one of us has received a measure of God's goodness in the graces, gifts and talents we have received. In today's Gospel, Jesus begins his parable with this simple yet profound truth: God's generosity is real and knows no bounds. Before he set out on a journey, the master in the parable called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
Here is an image of God who is generous in ways that may surprise us. God entrusts his possessions to us in the form of many gifts -- life itself, the beauty of creation, the web of human relationships around us, our material goods, our particular talents and the gift of faith. All of these belong to God, the creator of the universe, who entrusts them to us freely and abundantly.
Do we recognize the many gifts and talents that come from God's generosity? Or do we focus instead on life's challenges and the things we do not have by comparing ourselves to others in envy and resentment?
Through this parable, Jesus invites us to recognize that each of us, without exception, has been given some particular grace, talent and gift, even in the difficult situations of life. Some talents we recognize and others we may not see or accept. But everyone has received some measure of God's generous goodness.
Each servant in the parable makes a different return on their talents. Two of the servants doubled their talents, while the third servant buried his talent in the ground out of fear. Jesus concludes his teaching with the responsibilities that come with talents.
Our first responsibility is to recognize God's gifts with humble gratitude. For gratitude is the daily choice that empowers us to multiply God's gifts and talents, even in difficult situations, as we pray, "speak to me, Lord."
What talents has God given me and how am I using these talents to serve God and neighbor?
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Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.