TALENTS¡KGOD¡¦S GENEROUS GIFTS TO US
By Anita Tolentino
August 30, 2006
This Gospel of Matthew is another example of God¡¦s generous love for all of us.
In the parable a story was told describing a master who knew the abilities of each of his servants and entrusted three of them his properties. He gave one 5 talents, the other 2 talents and the third servant one talent. Then he went on his journey.
First of all, the word talent (from Greek word talanton) here meant a sum of money. Whereas, talent, in English, as we all know, means natural ability.
Talents were weights of copper, gold or silver¡Kthe most common of which was silver. The value of five talents was fifteen years of labor so that was a large sum of money entrusted to the first servant to get invested. The master did not want his money to stay idle instead he wanted the value to multiply.
As the story unfolded we learn that the first servant doubled his talents as well as the second servant who also doubled the entrusted money to him. The third servant did not do anything with the talent but dug a hole instead and buried the single talent given to him. He disobeyed his master and acted irresponsibly.
When the master returned, the two servants who multiplied the valued of their talents were happy to let the master know of the result of their labor. But the third one was cocky and complained about the master being harsh, judgmental and had to be feared. He blamed the master for his actions. Remember also that though the servant got one talent it was still a generous gift of three years of wage (one talent).
In today¡¦s time¡Kwhen we look at this episode closely we can learn first of all how God loves us without conditions. God has given each of us our own talent (English: gift/ resources/abilities) freely and generously.
God does not give us things that do not commensurate with our personal strength or talent or creativity. We are given talents to serve God and God¡¦s people.
Some of us are multi-talented, others not. But each one of us has at least one special great talent. God wants us to use our God-given talents for the good of other people and ourselves. That is what we are created for ¡Kfor love and service to others just like Jesus modeled for us when he was on earth. God gave him the talent to preach, to teach and to heal and he used those talents / abilities for the good of the people of his time. Those talents and abilities have also been handed to us, as you all know because as human beings we also are able to spread the Good News of God¡¦s unconditional love through words and our actions, we are able to heal those who are troubled, neglected, suffering, alone, mentally and physically in pain, etc. by our presence in their lives and our readiness to serve.
The parable tells us that the master was happy with the two trustworthy servants who had accomplished their obligation to multiply the value of his property and so he praised both of them. But the one who disobeyed, complained and blamed the master for his non-productivity was sent away ¡§into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth¡¨. (These words are Matthew¡¦s Aramaic way of saying ¡§pain and torment of hell¡¨
Hell, as we know now, is a state of being just as the concept of heaven is a state of being, as well. Hell is when we have a negative relationship with God and heaven is a happy, positive relationship with God. Hell and heaven are not places we go to after death as we have been taught long time ago. We can experience heaven and hell while we are living now on earth.
Examples of being in a state of hell are serious illness, death of someone we love, unsettled and feeling of anxiety, lack of peace inside ourselves, deceptions, uncontrolled anger, unforgiveness, depression, being out of touch with the people we love or the world, etc.
Heaven is when we are at peace with ourselves and we feel that close relationship with God, following the teaching of Jesus and living the life of truth and love. When we can be truly happy with our relationship with family members, friends and the community and when we can give and receive love and service from others are just examples of that heavenly feeling.
We have a choice to be in the state of heaven or hell.
So, the servant who was supposed to serve his master well but did not obey, and was ¡§being thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth¡¨ is not being punished here. He is given a chance to reflect about his situation and his being irresponsible.
The third servant has to travel inward of himself and find out why he was not as productive and successful as the other two. Not being able to double his talents, whether it is out of fear or laziness cannot be a scapegoat for the servant.
That is also true for us now. We are all encouraged to use our talent and ability to serve God¡¦s people. Of course, God will not throw us outside of the kingdom when we fail for God is love and only love. God loves us unconditionally. God is patient with all of us.
However, we cannot simply be lax with our own talent and be non-productive. When we do not use our talent properly or do something about our own talent, we can be pretty lonely, unhappy, anxious, lacking self-esteem, unsuccessful and can be suffering inward (darkness). We should try to develop and share that very special gift that God gave us¡Kwhether it is the talent/gift/ability to be compassionate, understanding, humorous, funny, academic, athletic, spiritual, musical, artistic, business-like, etc.
Let us not blame God for our un-productiveness. Let us nourish, embellish and share the gifts that God has generously given us.
When God knocks at the door of our hearts and invite us to use our talents/gifts, we only have to welcome him/her in and be faithful to him/her. When we listen to God¡¦s Word, it is easy to see the light and follow Jesus¡¦ footsteps.
The servant did not open the door of his heart to let Jesus in. He disregarded the invitation so he was unhappy and miserable.
We cannot blame God for our misery and unhappiness.
Anita Tolentino is a lay minister at St. Charles Parish in Edmonton.
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