Price of Greatness
Mt. 25:14-15; 19-21
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one-- to each according to his ability. Then he went away. "After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'"
Youth is a time for discovering our talents. We might still find something later in life, but most of our talents are discovered early on. Sometimes, we can get hung up on the question “what are my talents?” But I feel that it is much more important to see how well we are using our talents. Jesus seems to be very clear in the parable that the important thing is not who has more or less talents, but what each person does with the entrusted talents. It seems like we are less the owners of our talents, and more like faithful stewards. How do we make sure that we will make good use of our talents.
Price of Greatness
First, we have to take responsibility. “The price of greatness is responsibility.” (Winston Churchill, Harvard, 1943) Some may have intellectual greatness. Others are physically very adept. What are we doing with the talents that we have received? “Responsibility” is an unpopular world in our modern world. There is a lot of desire to hold other people accountable, but relatively few people volunteer to be held accountable themselves. Am I developing the talents that have been entrusted to me? We have to make some choices along the road of life. To choose one thing means to renounce another. It can be painful to have to close doors in our life, but it is a sign of maturity. One of the saddest manifestations of immaturity is to see middle-aged people trying to keep all of their options open. This can only end in heartbreak and disaster.
To Follow Christ
Second, if we are going to make good use of our talents, we have to put them to good use, following Jesus. He wants to accompany us all through our life. But this implies sacrifice and surrender to God’s plan for our life. “Perfect love drives out fear.” (1John 4:18) We need to put some more effort into living free from fear. “To follow Christ and to serve the world in his name requires courage and strength. There is no place for selfishness – and no place for fear!” (Pope John Paul II, 22 November 1986) It is so easy to become selfish when we consider our talents. We can feel that we are the absolute owners. We have all of the merit and deserve all of the accolades. It takes humility to recognize that they are gifts from God, and as such we owe him something in return.
Mature adulthood is a time for developing and living out our talents. Each day, when we go to bed, we should have a short conscience examen. Did. I live fully today? Did I live for Christ. To live for anything other than for Christ is a waste of time. This seems extreme to our ears, but it is the truth. Christ gives us everything and takes nothing away. Let’s learn to live for Christ.
Do not be afraid
When is the last thing you did something that you feared? A short time ago, we celebrated the feast day of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She is the first saint to have become an American citizen. She emigrated from Italy to the United States and took care of the Italian immigrants through hospitals, schools, and orphanages. But you know what? She was afraid of water. And she got on a boat and crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Her love for souls was greater than her fear.
Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice. Do not be afraid of the Cross of Christ. The Cross is the Tree of Life. It is the source of all joy and peace. It was the only way for Jesus to reach resurrection and triumph. It is the only way for us to share in his life, now and forever. (Pope John Paul II, 22 November 1986)
Are you bearing fruit with the talents that God has entrusted to you? It is a special gift, and one that should make you grateful every day. He wants to involve you in his great work of evangelization. How will you use your talents to bring Christ into the world?