Sin refuses God's gifts

We are the foolish, the weak and the lowly. All the graces, talents and weaknesses God has given us are available to produce results for Him. It is just like exercise. The more we exercise the stronger we get. 

Things that we were not able to do before are now achievable. 

Image by Jackson David

Sin is not using God's gifts

By Lou Occhi
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Matthew 5:14-30

In today’s gospel Jesus tells the parable of the master going away for some time. He calls three of his servants and entrusts them with some of his possessions based on their abilities. To one he gave 5 talents. To the second he gave 2 talents. To the third he gave 1 Talent. Just so you know, a talent is worth around $4080 in today’s dollars.

As is typical with the parables that Jesus tells, money is used as an analogy to something more spiritual. Sometimes money is used to portray graces or a relationship with the Father in heaven or eternal life in paradise or, in this case, our strengths and weaknesses.

Each of the three servants were given instruction to take care of the talents but were not given specific instructions on what was expected of them. They could have taken the talents and run to another country and used them for their own benefit. They could have hid the talents under a mattress and kept them safe until the master’s return. Finally, they could have used the talents to increase the total number of talents. The first two servants used the talents given them to wheel and deal and increase the number of talents given them in order to gain favor with their master. This plan is fraught with dangers, especially, the possibility of losing what they were given. This probably would not have gone over well with the master. As it turned out, each of the two servants doubled what they had been given. As expected, the master was very pleased with their work and increased their responsibilities and were invited to share in their master’s joy.

The third servant was in fear that the master would punish him if he lost the one talent given him. He decided the only safe thing to do was bury the talent and return it on the master’s return. When the master heard what the servant had done he took the one talent and gave it to the one who had ten. He finishes by saying “For everyone who has more, more will be given and he will grow rich; but for the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

In my mind Jesus is the master in this parable and, in a way, is advising his followers that he is leaving, and they should use what He has given them to further His work. In doing so they will be rewarded handsomely. The sin is to not use the gift freely given. Unused, that gift will be taken away in the end. 

As Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians, “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to Him, that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us, wisdom from God as well as righteousness, sanctification and redemption, so that as it is written, whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.”

We are the foolish, the weak and the lowly. All the graces, talents and weaknesses God has given us are available to produce results for Him. It is just like exercise. The more we exercise the stronger we get. Things that we were not able to do before are now achievable. I am reminded of Pete Fountain, the famous Jazz clarinetist. When he was young, he suffered from severe breathing problems. The doctor advised his mother that he should take up a wind instrument to help with his breathing problems. He started playing and never stopped. I had the opportunity to see him perform. He played for a couple of hours and never took a break or stopped to chat in order to catch his breath.

Like Pete Fountain, we are called to use the talents God has given us and bring glory and honor to our Lord. Perhaps a good place to start is to exam ourselves and try to discover what talents and weaknesses we have. I know some of you help people do their taxes, volunteer at Help The Needy, do readings at mass, teach music and so forth. Perfect! When you do those things you are interacting with many people and, with the grace of God, you can inspire others with your love, kindness and dedication. 

Don’t underestimate your influence on others. Our parish in Mississippi had occasional get-togethers with the local Methodist church. We would share our beliefs with the Methodists at their church. Then they would share their beliefs with us at our church. I was talking to one of my Methodist friends about how I enjoyed our meetings. He told me that what impressed him most about Catholics was that we would genuflect before sitting in our pews. Such a little thing that we do without so much as a second thought actually had an effect on someone.

Remember that when you are doing God’s work you are risking rejection and hate. It is like the two servants who increased the master’s wealth by risking the loss of what they had been given. Fortunately, we have a loving God looking out for our back. 

Just don’t forget to thank God for your successes and ask for help in your failures. Remember, “whoever boasts, boasts in the Lord.”

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