Our Gospel reading for today is known as Jesus's Parable of the Talents. This is where we get our word 'talent" today, from this Bible story. Back in Jesus's day, a talent was a large sum of money. A talent was equivalent to around $1,000 today.
But remember, I've told you before that Jesus's parables were stories that were not meant to be taken literally. They are stories that are meant to be understood symbolically. So Jesus, with this parable, is not just talking about money, but he's talking about the gifts and the talents that all of us have received. Just as the servants in today's parable have all been given gifts and talents by their master, we too have all received gifts and talents from our divine master -- gifts we are to use in service of the world.
In our church's E-Pistle newsletter this week, I shared with all of you a quote from one of my favorite spiritual writers of the 20th century, the late Leo Buscaglia. He said, "Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God."
Jesus said in one of his other teachings, "No one takes a light and hides it under a bushel basket, but puts it on a stand for all to see. In the same way, let your light shine before all and give glory to God."
The first two servants in today's parable took their talents, and they invested them and increased them. But the third servant, out of fear, hid his talent. And we hear that he is banished into darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus is letting us know with this parable that if we do not use the gifts and talents that we have received, we will live unfulfilled lives, lives of sadness and despair. I'm reminded of the quote by Henry David Thoreau who said, "Most men live lives of quiet desperation. And they go to their graves with their songs still in them."
So why do so many people live like the third servant in today's parable? Why do so many people go to their graves with their song still in them? Well, I think so much of it has to do with fear. We think things like "What if I'm not good enough?" Or, "What will people think of me?" Or,"What if I'm just too old?"
Well, let me tell you something. So many famous people didn't discover their God-given gifts and talents until much later in life. Julia Child for example, was 40 when she started cooking. She said, "It took me 40 years to discover my true passion." She published her first cookbook at the age of 50. And she was 55 when her TV show began.
Then there's the writerJ.R.R. Tolkien. He wrote the first of his series of Lord of the Rings books at the age of 62. And the writer Laura Ingalls Wilder began her series of Little House on the Prairie books at the age of 64. And she finished them at the age of 76.
Then there is the artist who was known as Grandma Moses. She didn't even pick up a paintbrush until the age of 78. And she did so because her arthritis had gotten so bad that she could no longer hold an embroidery needle. Grandma Moses painted more than 1,000 paintings -- paintings that are now hanging in famous museums in New York and Vienna, and Paris. Places that she herself, never got to visit in her lifetime. So no, my friends, it is never too late for us to uncover our God-given gifts and talents and to share them with the world.
So what about those thoughts of "I'm not good enough." Or, "What will people think of me?" Well each year I share a quote with you that addresses these very questions. This was written by the contemporary spiritual writer and teacher, Marianne Williamson. She wrote, "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 and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. You 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. We, my friends were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we give others permission to do the same."
It is never too late for us to bring our gifts and talents into fulfillment. And when we do so, we then experience lives of freedom, fulfillment, and abundance. Not just for ourselves, but for one another. And for the glory of our God.
Rev. Salvatore Sapienza
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