Ordinary 33rd Sunday
Ordinary 33rd Sunday
Prov 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31 1Thess 5: 1-6 Mt 25: 14-30
A wholistic life demands a wholistic development of our talents and resources.
Talents of Three Types
All of us have been given talents and resources to live our lives better. These talents and resources can be catergorized into three: Physical or material resources, intellectual resources and spiritual resources. Physical or material resources include money, possessions, talents etc.. It is with intellectual resources that we organize our lives, analyse our actions, differentiate the good from the bad etc.. Spiritual resource refers to a life of God-centredness, of meaning and of service. All these different types of resources enhance us, enrich us and empower us.
In today’s gospel, we see the king distributing talents to three different individuals according to their capacities. We can interpret this passage in such a way that all these talents have been given to us – at three different levels. It can be said that one talent has been given to our physical layer, two talents to our intellectual layer and five talents to our spiritual layer.
First of all we need to understand that a talent is, in no way, a small amount. It is said that a talent is equal to the income of a daily worker for 15 years. On an average, if we calculate that a person earns Rs. 100 per day, then a talent would amount to more than 5 lakhs of rupees. Indeed, that is a huge amount! It is to say that the talents and resources, contained in our physical. mental and spiritual layers are immense and enormous.
All of us have got our own physical talents and resources. We try to bring them out and exhibit them in the form of various talents such as singing, dancing, games etc. The talents which have been given to our mind are much more than those of physical. All of us do know that it is our mind that controls our body. However the resources in our spiritual layer are unbounded and unlimited. The number five could mean ‘unlimited.’
One of the purposes of human life is to be in touch with these resources and live our lives fully. Quite often, when we think of resources, we always think of external resources such as money, position, power etc., and completely forget the internal resources within us. We might be familiar with the story of a youth who went to a rich landlord and told him, “I am very poor! I want to come up in my life. Kindly help me.” The landlord told him, “I am ready to help you with Rs. 5 lakhs, provided you should accept to cut off your right hand and give it to me. In case, you want Rs. 10 lakhs, I am ready to part with it. But as return, you should hand me over your right leg.” The terrified youth told him, “What you are asking is impossible! I can’t give the parts of my body for your money. I go back.” The landlord looked at his eyes and told him, “My dear young man, you said that you are poor. Do you still think so? Don’t you think that the resources within you are unparallel to anything external?”
Happiness of our lives partly consists in being touch with all types of resources in us. Unfortunately many of us are not in touch with all these resources, especially the spiritual resources. Many are contented with using a meagre part of their physical and intellectual resources.
Talents & People of Light/Darkness
St. Paul, in the second reading, talks about two types of people – People who walk in light and people who are in darkness. It can be said that people who are in touch with their spiritual resources are the ones who live in light. They have a deeper understanding of life, are die-hard optimists, are not much affected by external vagaries of life, and are self-rooted. Since they unravel the resources hidden in the deepest level of their being, they understand and approach life with a deeper perspective and better clarity. Being in touch with spiritual resources gives them an opportunity to understand life in its entirety.
Whereas, people who are not aware of their spiritual resources, or those who utilize their resources to the least, are the ones who live in darkness. Their understanding of life is very shallow. Their vision of life is coloured and marred by selfishness and egoism. A shallow perception of life leads to a peripheral and wrong way of living.
Talents & the Ways to Bring them out:
Besides pointing out the various layers of talents, which have been given to us, the readings of today also point out the way to bring them out. There are two qualities we need in order to bring out the best of the resources, hidden in us. The first one is hard work. The second one is alertness. In the first reading, we read about a capable wife. The very important thing that is constantly repeated is that she is the one who is very hardworking. “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands” and “She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle” are the words said about a good wife by the author of the book of Proverbs.
In the second reading, St. Paul invites us to be alert. “Let us keep awake” says St. Paul. This is not about keeping awake at night, but being aware and alert. Alertness is one of the best ways to understand and approach our life in its entirety.
It can be safely said that the servants who doubled their talents, certainly had these twin qualities of alertness and hard work. Alertness helps a person to be attentive and to have presence of mind, while hard work helps a person to give his best in order to draw out the best. Alertness without hard work makes us passive onlookers on life. Hard work without alertness of mind makes us do things which are unimportant and unnecessary. The first servant had neither any inclination to work hard, nor had any alertness of mind.
Loving Father, help us to realize that only by developing our internal resources, we can live our lives happier and more meaningful, Amen.