Reflection for 33rd Sunday of Year

My dear Friends

I hope you are well.

This Sunday’s gospel, the parable of the talents, has multiple facets! The “talents” referred to in the gospel are not quite what we understand by the expression ‘burying our talents’. In Antiquity a ‘talent’ was a unit of currency. In the Greek world, it was known as a tálanton. In Jesus’ part of the world, its Hebrew name was kikkār. Mary Fairchild describes this talent as ‘a flat, round gold or silver disk, or circular shaped loaf’. This talent was worth a vast sum of money in the region of 6,000 drachmas or denarii. It would have taken a person between sixteen to twenty years to save that amount of money!

However, let us move from this monetary facet to another, as both represent the ways in which we use our blessings. These blessings can be material and intellectual; our giftedness in our talents and expertise; our use of our psychological and spiritual gifts... all used and celebrated for ‘the greater glory of God’! I think this is possibly the areas about which the stewards in the gospel were asked to give their personal accounts!

You have often heard me speak about the importance of realising our gifts and talents. This is the sometimes arduous, personal journey to authenticity by achieving our full sacred potential! Rumi once wrote, Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames!

All too often, it is not so much a case of our burying our gifts and talents, but of those gifts and talents being sabotaged and ‘buried’ by other people! This often arises from the woundedness of our human condition! Feelings of insecurity, jealousy and resentment can haemorrhage cynicism and corroding criticism. These verbal acids can gradually eat away, and undermine the other person’s self-worth, self-value and self-esteem, and abort the other’s potential. The sad and painful consequence is rather like the summer rosebud which withers, before it can blossom into the glorious rose it could have been. I think the moral here is indeed, Seek those who fan your flames!

When someone truly believes in us, and, like a loving mirror, reflects back to us the greatness and beauty of God dwelling within our unique personhood; when that special someone glories in our talents and gifts, and enables and empowers us to realise, that with hard work, we can achieve anything to which we set our minds and hearts....then... the ‘talent’ in today’s gospel is not a ‘silver or gold disk’, but the sacred talent of ministry!

This is a ministry in which the radiant love of God reaches out from one person to another and ‘midwifes’ the sacred eye of awareness in the other person. Echoing Mary’s voice in
the Magnificat, the awareness of God’s greatness within enables that person to acclaim, The Lord has done great things for me...Holy is his name! This is the work of the servant who multiplied the value of his/her ‘talent’ by helping others to give birth to the authentic and unique person God created the recipient of his/her ministry to be.

I think Nikos Kazantzakis expresses it very well, when he says, True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own. those who fan your flame!

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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