Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time, Treasure and Talent

 


Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for Homily



We last heard this parable in November of 2008.

So each of us has had three years to consider its simple message:
God gives, we receive, God watches --
to see what we do with what we’ve been given.
(And woe to those who fail to work with what they’ve received:
only weeping and the gnashing of teeth for them!)

Three years...

So I thought it might be a good idea this morning
for us to break up into small groups - a couple of pews each -
to discuss and share how each of us is doing with what God gave us
and to see if any of us have buried what we’ve received from God.

From the looks on your faces, you might not think that’s a great idea!

Well, whether we break into small groups or not, the question remains:
what are we doing with what God has given us?

Jesus uses the word “talents” here in its original sense:
a weight used to measure large amounts of gold and silver.
It wasn’t until the mid-14th century that “talents” came to mean
a special natural ability.
The meaning changed
because that’s how the parable was being preached:
preaching the parable redefined the word.

But the real question is this:
does the parable redefine how we live our lives as Christians?

• Have Jesus’ words here led me to take inventory
of what I’ve been given, according to my own ability?
• Do I measure and weigh all I have as gift of God -
or as the results of my own invention?

• And what have I done, what am I doing, with what I’ve been given?

Am I like the first two servants in the story,
using and developing what I’ve received and making more of it?

Or am I like the third servant in the gospel?

Have I buried what I’ve been given?
Have I regarded what I have as "my insignificant gifts,"
convincing myself they’re not worthwhile,
not worthy of anyone’s notice,
not great enough to make a difference?

Have I labeled what I have, “Return to Sender,”
not satisfied with what I have -- an I jealous and envious of others’ gifts?

Are my gifts buried in a tight schedule with the notation:
“Sorry, no time -- too busy with other things!”

Have I hidden my gifts, fearful that others might see them
and expect me to share them?

Or have I socked away what I have, thinking,
“My family and I might need this one day--
I think I’ll keep it for us"?

And what have we been given?

Each of us has been given time, treasure and talent,
which each of us has received in greater or lesser amounts,
each according to his or her temperament, circumstances and abilities.

In varying degrees and different ways, each of us has been given:
• warmth, compassion, and humor;
• a smile, a word to speak, a hand to extend;
• some art, skill, work, hobby, or interest to share;
• opportunities to show our appreciation of others
• moments to offer support, encouragement or consolation;
• a minute, an hour, or a day, or more,
to surrender my own desires in service of the needs of others;
• time for a phone call, a card, an email, a letter or a visit;
• a dollar or a hundred thousand dollars or more
to support the church, its work and those in need;
• a heart that can forgive, a mind that can come to understand,
lips that can speak the truth, and shoulders on which to lean;
• and opportunities for the sacrifice and self-giving
of volunteering, supporting, joining --
of just showing up when I’m invited, expected or needed…

All of us have been entrusted with such gifts from God,
and many, even most of us have been given more than we need.

But often, even with our surplus, we hold back what we have
and in one way or another we bury what we’ve received.

Time, treasure and talent:
do we develop and work with these and share them
- or bury them?

None of us wants the wailing and grinding of teeth Jesus spoke of -
nor is that his desire for us.
That imagery highlights our responsibility and accountability
for all that we have, and for sharing it.

Most of us are well aware of two important and critical realities:
• in the global village, people like us have far more than we need
in a world of people who want for the most basic of necessities;
and
• in our heart of hearts, we know there is far more joy in giving to others
than there is in counting how much treasure
we have buried for ourselves.

We’re only a few weeks away from Thanksgiving and Christmas.

These are seasons in which we rejoice in what we’ve been given
and find joy in giving, in sharing what we have with others,
especially those in need.

As this season of giving approaches,
how will we take inventory of what we have?

How will we assess what we’ve done with what we’ve received?

How will we share our time, our treasure and our talent
with those who hunger and thirst for what we have in abundance?

And how will 2012 be for us more than a season but a year
for developing and sharing all that God has given us?

We’re about to approach the Lord’s Table
where he offers to us everything that was his to give.

On the Cross, there was nothing he held back --
he gave us everything he had.

And this morning, in the Eucharist,
he offers us everything he has to give:
his life, his Body and Blood.

How shall we thank him?
What might we offer in return?
Our time, our treasure and our talent,
surrendered to others for their need --
and for our salvation.





   
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