The first reading of the capable wife from Proverbs proclaimed this morning is one that is sometimes used at funerals for wives and mothers. Initially, there seems little connection between it and the Gospel, where a bond is usually evident. However, I will never again hear that reading, without thinking of a very dear friend who died in September; because of who she was, the links are clearly visible. My friend epitomized the capable wife, and friend, and Christian who profoundly lived her faith through the actions of her life. Far from burying her ‘talents,’ instead she used the gifts she was given to extend a helping hand to all those in need. She lived as a ‘child of the light’ as Paul reminds the Thessalonians they are.
The excerpt from Matthew’s Gospel we hear is taken from Jesus’ last significant speech before his death and resurrection and immediately precedes “The Judgement of the Nations” which we will hear next week. Jesus knows he is soon leaving his disciples; he is trying to ensure they understand his teachings. Today’s Gospel has become associated with stewardship and our baptismal responsibility of sharing our gifts, so much so, that the Greek word ‘talanton’, a monetary term, has come to mean ‘God-given ability.’ Everyone has talents – gifts we are born with and develop throughout our lives; gifts given to us by the God who created us, to share with others. We do not have the choice to use these gifts or not; it is demanded of us by the same God who gave them to us. The American spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson describes it this way: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
‘Make manifest the glory of God.’ I believe that is what this Gospel passage is about. Matthew is telling us we are not to hide or bury our gifts to protect and save them. Our talents are treasures meant to be lived and shared; through our sharing of them, they will grow and more importantly, so will we. To hide behind our fears and worries is to limit who we are meant to be, who God created us to be.
My friend never sought the limelight. She simply lived as a child of God who knew she was loved and valued and had much to give the world. When we live with that knowledge we accept it is not about us, it is about God. Cathy understood that.
Archdiocese of Moncton, Office of Faith Development