November 15, 2020 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111520.cfm)
I had a conversation among students and we were talking about self-confidence and talents. There was a good number among them who expressed that they were struggling because of low self-esteem. Most of them too tended to compare themselves a lot with others. They recognized more what was lacking in them and what others have. Such comparison seemed to become a habit that anything can become a subject of comparison and telling the self that he/she lacks and is unfortunate.
As I let them talk about their experiences, most of them also expressed that it started at home. Their parents tend to compare them with their sibling, or cousin or neighbor or a classmate who seemed to be so much better, brighter and more talented than them. The constant nagging and comparing of their parents have made and molded their consciousness that they were less intelligent and less talented.
Thus, when we tend to compare more ourselves from others, we also become harsher towards ourselves. By identifying what we don’t have and what others have would only make us more miserable in life. We become more miserable because we will not be contented with what we have. Moreover, we will become indifferent to our own talents and capacities, resources and potentials. This will develop then, into fear, into a paralyzing fear that prevents us to be fruitful, joyful and living life to the fullest.
Now, this brings me into our Gospel today. Jesus tells us this wonderful story of the parable of the talents. There were three people being given talents from their master. The talents, here were the amount of money gifted to the three. And so the master, gave the talents according to the ability of each one. To the first, he gave five talents. To the second, he gave two talents. And the last one was given one talent.
However, we were told that the third man was a fearful person. Unlike the two, he did not take the risk of investing the talent given to him because we was afraid of failure. He chose not to do anything because fear seemed to paralyze him.
He must have pitied himself because he only received one talent unlike the two who had more. He must have compared himself a lot with them. Deep inside, he must be furious and angry why he only received one. It must have been so unfair for him. In his insecurity, he retreated to hide, to low self-esteem, to fear but bitter towards the gifts and blessings of others.
These thoughts must have occupied his mind and heart to the point that he couldn’t do anything because fear crept it. He feared his master. He was afraid to fail. Yet, that fear in him did not also save him. The talent that he was hiding because of fear, was taken away from him. He lost it and lost the opportunity given to him to be fruitful in his own way. He lost the opportunity to enjoy that talent and to enjoy life.
Moreover, this attitude is only one possible extreme reaction towards the talents, gifts, and potentials we have. Another possible reaction is its opposite and that is to accumulate what we believe to have been lacking in us and ignoring what we are actually capable of. When we tend to amass things that we were deprived of, we will also tend to be corrupt and abusive. Then, we begin to show arrogance, exercise power and control over others whom we think are lesser than us.
This is not what God wants us to be. God wants us to trust Him who has blessed us with gifts, talents and people. Trusting God means being faithful to the gifts that we have received which may include our intellectual and physical abilities, our ministry, roles and responsibilities in our community and even our relationships as a parent, as a spouse, as a sibling or as a child. These are the areas where we are invited by the Lord to invest our heart and our life.
The Lord gifted us, each according to our abilities. God is confident with our potentials. God knows very much what we are capable of. Yet, let us also remember, that we don’t have to make big and spectacular things to just seek praise and recognition from others. The Book of Proverbs in our first reading today tells us how a simple wife does her duties with grace and kindness. In that way, she developed her gifts as a wife and as a person by also reaching out to others and extending kindness to the needy.
This is God’s invitation for us – to trust God who trusted us first, to trust his generosity and to be faithful to the many gifts and talents we have received from him. We are called to recognize and embrace what we have, to be grateful for those and invest time and effort. God wants us also to commit ourselves to those things.
I would like now to leave three reminders for today.
First, do not compare yourself to others. It will not help you. You will only become more miserable. Rather, begin to acknowledge what you have now – talents or abilities, roles or responsibilities and relationships. Identify also those areas where you think you are still weak and so need more investment from you, perhaps, you need more time, more attention, more practice, more focus, more presence and more confidence. When we are able to accept them and nurture them, then, we shall surely witness God’s wonder in making us productive and flourishing.
Second, parents, please stop comparing your child to another. It does not help. Instead, discover their gifts and encourage them to develop them. But avoid pampering them to the point that they couldn’t do anything without you.
Third, never be afraid of failure. If we fail, it could be painful and shameful but go on. It is not the end of your world. Never let fear prevent or paralyze you. Conquer fear by becoming more grateful to God who first loved us and also the first one to have confidence in us. Hinaut pa.