There is a story told about a class reunion that took place at a school run by a religious order. An elderly priest, who had come back for the reunion, found himself surrounded by his former students many of whom he had not seen since their graduation.
The students began to share with him the stories of their lives. One was an architect who, among the buildings he designed, were two impressive churches. Another was a university professor who had written several books. Another was the head of a business company with branches in several countries. Another was a highly successful farmer. Another was a bishop in the Church. Another the principal of a prestigious school.
The old priest listened to the impressive litany of successes and achievements. There did not seem to be a single failure among them.
As they shared their stories he said little, mainly nodding his head and smiling. When they had finished he complimented them on their successes. Then, looking at them with affection, he said, “And now, tell me what you have made of yourselves.”
They were reluctant to talk about themselves. It seems that they were so absorbed in their careers that they had neglected their personal lives. Their energies were so focused on success that they failed to focus on who they were as a person.
Today’s Gospel account has Jesus speaking about three persons who were given different talents. He commends the first two because they used their talents wisely and he chastises the third because he buried his.
When Jesus speaks about talents, he is not talking about such things as musical, art, or sports abilities. While such talents are important, the parable of Jesus goes much deeper. The ultimate thing that matters is what we make of ourselves. What kind of person we become.
Our first reading today from the Book of Proverbs helps us make a connection to what Jesus is speaking of in this parable. The woman could hardly be described as being either successful or famous. However, she is being held up as a model. Why? Because of the kind of person she is; industrious, caring, wise, and virtuous. She possesses something more valuable than wealth or beauty. She possesses a loving heart which is displayed by the way she has placed her talents at the service of her family, her neighbors, and the poor. Because of this she has the admiration and respect of the entire community.
There is a familiar saying that helps us to understand the meaning of the parable: Life is God’s gift to us. What we do with our life is our gift to God.
— Father Dennis, November 19, 2017