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November 19, 2017: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Photo: Sisters of Providence Marikay Duffy, Therese Whitsett and Tracey Horan join in a calling campaign at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church.)

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one– to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two.  But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter?  Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.

For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'” (Matthew 25:14-30)


Many times I read this parable and get so caught up in what each servant gets and what gets taken away from each. Today though I am stepping back and taking an alternative approach.

First, the Master (God) entrusts talents/gifts to each of us.
Second, the Master provides these talents/gifts according to ability. God’s definition of ability is a willingness to serve as God’s envoy to help bring about positive change. Underlying this idea is that multiple talents/gifts are always there awaiting our willingness to find then use them. When we recognize in our world a need, we will find we have the ability to share one or more of our gifts so as to address that need. In addition, we have a lifetime to explore, find, and use all the abilities that the Master has provided for us.

At some point in our lives we will find ourselves like that servant who is afraid. Suppose I am not really good at it? What will others think? Those and other questions like them, if we let them, paralyze us when we should trust what the Master has given to us. The parable is clear about the consequences of giving in to that fear. The servant who buries his talent is miserable long before the loving God inquires what the servant has chosen to do with his gift.

Each of us, no matter our financial circumstances, is blessed with many talents. As the parable makes clear, talents are gifts to be shared. When we commit to using them, God through the Holy Spirit will replenish those talents. We will find we have the ability to endure, overcome, succeed, blossom, and to help others find their own way to blossom.


This week share some of your time with someone who is marginalized or someone who is lonely. Expand both your worlds. Afterwards, reflect on what you experienced and gained from the adventure.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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