1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
As for loving our brothers, there is no need for anyone to write to you about that, since you have learnt from God yourselves to love one another, and in fact this is what you are doing with all the brothers throughout the whole of Macedonia. However, we do urge you, brothers, to go on making even greater progress and to make a point of living quietly, attending to your own business and earning your living, just as we told you to.
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’
You have shown you can be faithful
Lately I was asked the same question by two young people – one was my tuition student and another, an undergraduate I recently met. They were seeking my advice about their career options and I found it very interesting that they were told the same thing by people around them, that is, that they should choose something they really like to do for their career. They seemed to have been given the impression that there was something not quite right in doing jobs that they do not really like. I think these sensible young women were probably feeling perplexed as they were aware that doing what they were passionate about may not necessarily reap much financially.
Looking at today’s gospel about the parable of the talents, a word that stands out for me is “responsibility” (used instead of “things” in the New American Bible translation). Everyone is dealt a different set of cards in life, with unique capabilities and limitations. Although we did not choose what we are given, we are nonetheless responsible for using them in service to the Lord. Deciding what to do with our time and resources is not easy, as it tends to have significant consequences, on ourselves or those around us. For example, the undergraduate I mentioned in the previous paragraph would want to work at a dog shelter, if she follows the advice she has been given about following her heart. I advised her against having that as her first ‘career’ as it probably will not help her to build up a financial base, unless she has other means of income. I believe that everyone has potential to be stretched and developed in different ways, and sometimes, the use of one’s gifts and talents need not be limited to what one likes to do. I would think that being responsible, in the case of people looking for jobs, would be to not burden others financially, even if it is at the expense of one’s own passion.
In the Gospel, the master took away the talents from the servant who did not use them and chose to hide them from sight instead. Whether you like them or not, your talents are yours to keep for this life, and to use, for God’s glory.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the courage to look beyond ourselves and use our talents for the service of others.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the rewards we receive when we do our best for others.