THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Make Good Use of God's Grace, Develop One's Hidden Potential
First Reading (Prov 3l: 10-13,19-20,30-31) : The example of a noble wife
Reading (1 Thess 5:1-6) : Stay awake and wait for the coming of the Lord.
Gospel (Mt 25:14-30) : The parable of the talents
The story of the “monkeys jumping across the brook” (1)
In Matthew's Gospel there is a parable comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a man who went on a long journey. Before leaving he distributed to each employee according to one's ability and ‘talents,’ to one five, to one two, to one only one talent. He instructed them to use them well, and on his return he would demand of each an account.
The one who had received five talents had gained five more; the one who had received two, had gained two more. Only the one who had received one talent gained nothing more.
On his return the employer praised and rewarded the one who had gained five more and also the one who had gained two more, but punished the one who had buried the talent and gained nothing thereby. (cf. Mt 25: 14-30)
Our God is good and also just and asks only that we develop the talents according to what he has given us throughout life.
God gives to each of us different gifts, some greater, some lesser, but like different sizes of glass, to the fullness of each one's capacity.
God never makes comparisons. If we have five talents, we should gain five more, if two talents, gain two, and if one, then we should gain one more. In that way when we reach heaven, the merits of all will be equal.
But there always will be some who are lazy and some who while away their days. God does not like that.
In the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages the faithful to be alert and prudent. Alert and prudent about what? To use the talents God has given each one, much as the virtuous wife in today's first Reading from the Book of Proverbs. She worked industriously, loved God and her husband, and all the people around her. “She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.’(Prov. 31:10-31)
God gives us all that we need and we should utilizes these gifts' use our eyes to see, our ears to hear, those with wings, to fly and hearts with which to love. When we use our gifts to the full, the more we can develop them and even gain more.
When I was in the minor seminary, I thank God he gave me a fairly good intelligence and also a good memory, so I was happy to help other class mates who had more difficulties in their studies. Also due to that I received good marks in school-leaving examinations. Because the more I could help others, I myself became more and more fulfilled.
Talents must be utilized if we are to develop them even more. That is meant by this: “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’ (Mt 25:29)
Actually we have other potential of which we are unaware, only when we open ourselves more can we develop them further. We see some mothers who have heavy burdens and pressurize their loving sons to carry a burden much heavier than they had been able to do before.
I remember once in Tai O when I was small and fishing with a group of playmates. One evening we found a big snake, and all of us ran up to the shore to escape it. But one boy, perhaps out of fright, was panting from carrying a full bucket of water. We saw how afraid he was and called out: “Hey! You really are strong!” When he saw the heavy bucket of water he was carrying he suddenly dropped it with a noisy bang. Actually he ordinarily did not have that much strength.
There is a similar Chinese story about some “monkeys jumping across the brook”(1): There was a monkey trainer who tried to train some monkeys to jump across a deep brook. The brave monkeys did not need much training and just jumped across. However, some were afraid to do so. The trainer started to whip the frightened monkeys. Some were afraid of the whipping and jumped across unwillingly. But some monkeys refused to jump despite the whipping. Suddenly, a tiger appeared and all the monkeys jumped across the brook.
It is really true that God gives us many talents and we must try to develop them. We should always say to oneself, ‘I can, .I will; I can live happily and well; I am a child of God and I have sufficient strength from God, to live life to its fullest and live a life of love for God and others.
If we can develop our potential in this way we are surely using the talents God gave us.