Once, at a re-union of past pupils of a well known school run by a religious order, a senior priest attending found himself surrounded by a host of pupils, most he had not seen since they left the school many years previously. They valued highly this priest’s influence on their lives.
Gracious as always without any prompting of them they poured out their stories. One was an architect, another a university professor, another now head of a major business company extending to dozens of countries. Another a highly successful farmer. Another a Monsignor in his diocese and another a highly esteemed principal in a prestigious school.
Listening to them the senior priest was impressed at the litany of successes and achievements. There didn’t seem to be a single failure or loser among them. Contenting himself he nodded politely and smiled. Then looking at them with affection he said,’and now, tell me what have you made of yourself?‘
You will understand they were startled at this question as a long silence followed, reluctant to talk about themselves. It seems they were so focused on efficiency and success they didn’t have the time to grow emotionally, with the result that in terms of relationships they were impoverished.
We know of many people who have done great things in their public lives but failed in their private lives. Successful careers became more important sadly often achieved at the expense of their personal lives. In the Gospel this weekend Jesus talks about three people given different talents. First two commended because they used their talents – the third is censured because he buried his talent.
When Christ talks about talents, we must not think only of our academic, musical or sporting talents- whilst these are important and all credit to those who possess them, develop them and use them. Christ brings us back on track in this parable, indicating the only thing that matters is what we make of ourselves.
Talent is important but character even more so, talent is a responsibility, and in some cases it can be as much a burden as a gift. Talented people can easily become inflated by their talent. They may forget that all talents are gifts from God. We are merely custodians of those gifts. Life is God’s gift to us. What we do with life is our gift to God.
Best wishes, Take care