November 09, 2011
Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [November 13, 2011]
I think I have now seen enough years and experienced enough living to confidently say that human talent has grown mightily over the years. I think, for instance, of how young men and women today demonstrate their skills in football, basketball, soccer music, dance, art and many other human endeavors.
Obviously, whether for good or ill, there is a dollar value attached to talent: young men, even during their high school careers, begin thinking of entering the pro ranks and becoming rich. It doesn’t work for everyone, of course, but many people who are skilled in sports look forward to an affluent lifestyle. We live in a highly competitive world where human talent is eagerly sought after.
In recent years in America and in Great Britain, exciting talent contests have sprung up: America’s got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent bring together some absolutely astonishingly people. Think, for instance, of the Susan Boyle a lady who came from tiny English village to walk on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent and sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Miserables. Her voice and stage presence completely stunned everyone in the theatre. The audience probably imagined her to be an ordinary British housewife. When asked by the judges why no one had ever heard of her extraordinary voice before, she said, “Well, I’ve never had a chance like this before.” She is still famous to this very day. Many other people, old and young have had the opportunity to try out their talents on large and critical audiences. All they ask for is the opportunity to let others see and hear what they can do best. Some disappear after their first audition and others “make it” on the big stage of life. They realize that this is the chance they take. Doubtless, it was worth the effort.
I can imagine that there thousands of such people in the world today who are specially gifted but do not have the opportunity to share their gifts with the larger world and so become appreciated by many of us who are less talented.
Ah, but we are, we are, all of us, are talented to some degree in some area of human life. Indeed, most of us do not even yearn for fame and fortune; we are simply happy to be able to do something with the gifts God has given us, and in the process, let the small world in which we circulate join us in our joy of giving.
In some sense it might be said that each of us is a walking miracle: We are individuals who will never in this whole wide world ever be duplicated again in all of human history. We are unique in ways that we ourselves often do not comprehend. Our fondest desire is not to become rich and famous, but happy with the opportunity that some other people in this world will find joy in what we do. In some sense, that gifts we have do not belong exclusively to us; they are meant for the world. That, in part, is the message the scriptures for this Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time lay out for us.
The first reading comes from the Hebrew Book of Proverbs describing the life of a wife and mother in glowing terms: her talents are basically housekeeping, but she is also praised for her artistic skills and her efforts to assist the poor and downtrodden. The concluding lines are a treasure: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors and let her works praise her at the city gates.”
There is one more element worthy of our inspection. The Jesus of Matthew’s gospel tells the story of several individuals who were given different amounts of money, which they were to invest for the moneylender. Two did invest and increased their gain. The third, however, a timid man, was afraid of losing what he was given and buried the deposit in the ground. Of course, he received a reprimand for his lack of insight and courage. The other two were well rewarded for the risk they took in investing the owner’s original sum; they went home happy.
It is a story, of course, a tale with a message. The message, as we noted above, being that our gifts are not our own; they are meant to build the kingdom of God in this world. In short, what we invest in terms of charity, justice, peacemaking and other Christian deeds during our lifetime will return to us in ways only God will understand. So, we are left with the question: What are you good at? What can you do that will make others cheer and clap and say “Wow, aren’t you something though?
Posted by Cindy Lentine on November 9, 2011 09:54 AM.