Monday, November 13, 2017

Nov. 19, 2017 - Gifted for Sharing

The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time  A

Reading I:  Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Psalm:  128

Reading II:  1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

Gospel:  Matthew 25:14-30

In today’s Gospel we hear about the Parable of the Talents. In the time of Jesus, the word “talent” stood for money. However, parables have several levels of meaning. I have decided to focus on the meaning of “talent” as a “gift.” 

For many years I taught on the Community College level where I sometimes had students who had not done well in high school. I liked teaching at that level because the students, sometimes single parents, knew that they needed to further their education in order to provide well for their families, so they were serious about their studies.

Teaching freshmen English composition, I often had the students as they began their journey in higher education. One of the important aspects of teaching at that level is to help them develop self-confidence. It was so gratifying to see how they matured in those two years.

I recall one student who had been very shy. She selected my Experiencing
Drama Course as an elective. In her second year, she was running for student government. In her speech, she mentioned that the reason she was able to run for the position was because of the drama course she had taken during her
freshman year. 

I found it to be very important to emphasize that God gives us all talents so that what needs to be done for the community can be accomplished. Each type of talent is valuable. I used to say that God must love ordinary people because he made so many of us. We only need a few artists, musicians, dancers, and movie stars. However, we need many, many nurses, teachers, doctors, farmers, maintenance persons, administrative assistants, food service people, childcare personnel, etc.

Since many of my students were planning to be secretaries, I used to bring out the importance of a secretary. The secretary, today called an administrative assistant, is the glue that keeps the office running smoothly and cares for the people. He or she needs to be dependable, caring, and knowledgeable. If the boss is out of town, the work can continue. However, if the secretary is out, there can be chaos.

My advisees were often studying early childhood education. I stressed that it wasn’t nearly as important that they have excellent grades as it was that they needed to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of little children. They should be proud that the parents of the children were entrusting them with their most precious possessions.

I also, noted that the children’s attitudes toward learning would be greatly influenced by their early experiences. In fact, their self-esteem would be affected not only by the parenting at home, but also by the encouragement, or lack of it, that they received at school.

In the parable of the talents, two of the servants used the talents they were given and pleased the master. However,  the third  probably did not recognize his own value because he received a smaller amount of talent than the others. The master did not see it that way. He wanted each of them to use the talents they were given and not to compare themselves with others. We need to remember that our gifts are from God. What we do with those gifts are our gifts to God.

  Reflection Question:   Do you appreciate the gifts that the Lord has given you?  Do you think that Lord is pleased with the way you are using them?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Los Muertos en Cristo se Levantarán

En el Evangelio de hoy escuchamos acerca de la Parábola de los Talentos.
En el tiempo de Jesús, la palabra “talento” significaba dinero. Sin embargo, las parábolas tienen varios niveles de significado. He decidido centrarme en el significado de “talento” como un “regalo”.

Durante muchos años enseñé en el nivel de Community College donde a veces tenía estudiantes que no habían tenido éxito en la escuela secundaria. Me gustaba enseñar en ese nivel porque los estudiantes, a veces padres solteros, sabían que necesitaban continuar su educación para poder brindarles bien a sus familias, por lo que hablaban en serio sobre sus estudios.

Enseñando la composición de inglés de los estudiantes de primer año, a menudo tenía a los estudiantes cuando comenzaron su viaje en la educación superior. Uno de los aspectos importantes de la enseñanza a ese nivel es ayudarlos a desarrollar la confianza en sí mismos. Fue muy gratificante ver cómo maduraron en esos
dos años.

Recuerdo a un estudiante que había sido muy tímido. Ella seleccionó mi Curso de Drama de Experimentación como una clase optativa. En su segundo año, se postuló para el gobierno estudiantil. En su discurso, mencionó que la razón por la que pudo postularse para el puesto fue por el curso de drama que había tomado durante su primer año.

Descubrí que es muy importante enfatizar que Dios nos da todos los talentos para que se pueda lograr lo que se necesita hacer para la comunidad. Cada tipo de talento es valioso. Solía ​​decir que Dios debe amar a la gente común porque hizo tantos de nosotros. Solo necesitamos algunos artistas, músicos, bailarines y estrellas de cine. Sin embargo, necesitamos muchas, muchas enfermeras, maestros, médicos, agricultores, personal de mantenimiento, asistentes administrativos, personal de servicio de alimentos, personal de cuidado de
niños, etc.

Dado que muchos de mis alumnos planeaban ser secretarios, solía resaltar la importancia de una secretaria. El secretario, hoy llamado asistente administrativo, es el pegamento que mantiene la oficina funcionando sin problemas y se preocupa por la gente. Él o ella deben ser confiables, atentos y conocedores. Si el jefe está fuera de la ciudad, el trabajo puede continuar. Sin embargo, si la secretaria está fuera, puede haber caos.

Mis asesores estudiaban a menudo la educación de la primera infancia. Recalqué que no era tan importante que tuvieran calificaciones excelentes, ya que tenían que ser sensibles a los sentimientos y necesidades de los niños pequeños. Deberían estar orgullosos de que los padres de los niños les confiaran sus posesiones más preciadas.

También, observé que las actitudes de los niños hacia el aprendizaje estarían muy influenciadas por sus experiencias tempranas. De hecho, su autoestima se vería afectada no solo por la crianza en casa, sino también por el estímulo, o la falta de ella, que recibieron en la escuela.

En la parábola de los talentos, dos de los sirvientes usaron los talentos que les dieron y complacieron al maestro. Sin embargo, el tercero probablemente no reconoció su propio valor porque recibió una cantidad menor de talento que los demás. El maestro no lo vio de esa manera. Quería que cada uno de ellos usara los talentos que se les dieron y que no se compararan con los demás. Necesitamos recordar que nuestros dones son de Dios. Lo que hacemos con esos regalos son nuestros regalos a Dios.

  Pregunta de reflexión:   ¿Agradeces los dones que el Señor te ha dado? ¿Crees que Lord está satisfecho con la forma en que los estás usando?


  1. I’d like to thank you for your acknowledgement of Administrative Assistants. I have spent the majority of my working years in that capacity and my experience has been that the position is not highly valued in the corporate world because it is not a money generating role. Over the years I’ve just assumed that I must be good at what I’m doing because I keep getting more and more work!
    I was touched by your last paragraph and the insight you offered concerning the third servant not recognizing his own value. When he compared himself to others, he perceived that he possessed lesser talents and consequently did not even attempt to accomplish a goal. His flawed reasoning proved to be self-defeating as the master dismissed him. Yet, I’ve got to believe that he longed for the praise of the master. Self-limiting beliefs prevent many of us from pursuing our dreams and leave us yearning for a fuller experience of life.
    Your brief synopsis contains several points for us to consider. First and foremost we need to understand that whatever talent we have comes from God. In order for us to even know this we need someone to teach us about self-worth. Your students were very fortunate to have you as an educator, coach, and believer in their abilities. With all the pressures that exist in our world today it is really important for all of us to be supportive of youth as they explore the opportunities available to them. Next, we need to see the harm in comparing ourselves to another if the outcome of such leads to feelings of not being good enough. We are bombarded with marketing campaigns that lead us to believe that some item or service will make us more desirable. If we don’t have our value as a child of God rooted within us it will be easy to fall for the shallow and misleading tactics of our culture.
    I love what you shared about remembering that our gifts are from God and what we do with those gifts are our gifts to God. I recall a story about a young man with Down’s syndrome who got a job as a bagger at the supermarket near his home. At first, customers were a bit intimidated to even acknowledge him because they feared they would say something wrong if a conversation were to start. However, this young man possessed a smile so engaging that it touched their hearts. Customers reported feeling warmed in his presence. Within a brief period of time the check-out line where he was bagging grew to be the longest line even though there were shorter, even empty lines. People were willing to wait to get to connect with this young man. A local reporter witnessed the lines and decided to interview the bagger. The bagger told the reporter that his mother always told him that his smile was a gift from God and that was what made him so special. His goal everyday was to share that gift with everyone. This young man certainly taught volumes about expressing your talents to achieve your divinely intended purpose.
    My personal perspective on this parable is that the third servant took no action because of fear of failure. I have personally experienced fear of failure and it is paralyzing. Looking back, I realize that I was relying on myself instead of putting my trust in God. It was a terrible place to be – confusion and poor decision making resulted. It took the nurturing words of a close friend to remind me Who was really in control and ready to assist me – if I but ask for His favor.
    Author Dr. Michael Toote regards the developing of our gifts as “Managing God’s Blessings.” He states, “It’s not good enough for the blessing to be passively received. The blessing must be received actively and with expectancy. The blessing must then be cultivated and not squandered but looked after and invested by the grateful recipient who is honored to be a steward partnering with God.”
    Let us pray for guidance to get past any unproductive stages in our life; ask to become aware of our God-given talents and express gratitude for all our blessings. St. Katharine Drexel said it well, “Our feet must carry us, but He is ever there to help us.”

  2. Sr. Therese M. Warner,SBSNovember 14, 2017 at 10:08 AM

    Yes. We realize that God wants us to use whatever talents He has given us to the best of our ability. Sometimes we might be a little unsure about this prospect, but we remember the famous quotation from Virgil - "They can because they think they can." Actually, we know that we can do whatever God has planned for us because He is always with us. The following excerpts are from a message from the Association of Catholic Priests:

    "There is a familiar Irish proverb - 'Praise the young and they will grow.' The converse can also be true. Blame the young and you hold them back. Unfair criticism can stunt our growth and prevent us from reaching our potential. We hide our talent in the ground. There it can remain safe but useless."

    "Jesus knew of the disabling power of fear in people's lives. He tells people, 'Do not be afraid.' When Peter fell down on his knees saying, 'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man', Jesus told him, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.' When fear threatened to hold Peter back, Jesus called him into a new phase of life. Jesus wants to be present to us all to release us from our fears."

    "We have each been graced by the Lord for the service of others. If I hide the talents the Lord has given me, others are thereby deprived. Most of us need some encouragement to place our gifts at the disposal of others. Part of our Christian vocation is to give them courage - to encourage them. A couple of verses beyond where today's second reading ends, Peter writes, 'Build each other up, as indeed you are doing.' "

    Association of Catholic Priests