November 19 – Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Growing up, my next-door neighbor and good friend had all the talents: from cool toys and a pool in the back yard to the newest gaming system. On top of that, he was the better natural athlete. I was constantly comparing myself to my friend. There was a lot of discouragement that I felt and it showed the depth and depravity of the sin of jealousy. 

There are over 8 billion people in the world. Out of the 8 billion people that God created, how many are the same as you and me? Exactly no one else! It is crazy to realize that each human being is unrepeatable and beautifully made. Everyone is put on this earth by God, and given a variety of unique gifts and talents.  

Yet, it’s amazing how we can constantly find ourselves stuck in the cycle of comparison and jealously.  The reason why jealousy is so dangerous is because it blinds us to the gifts the Lord has given each and every one of us. Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton said, “Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult.”    

In reading our Gospel, we can get caught up in comparing the number of talents the Lord has given us. In the story, the master gives talents to his servants. One was given five, another two, and finally the last servant was only given one. At the end of the story, we might ask why the servant with one talent failed to even invest it. Maybe it was because he was discouraged by jealousy, and was comparing himself with the servants who had two or five.

Yet, the importance of the Gospel is not in how many talents we are given, but in what we do with the talents! The Lord gives unique gifts to each person. And yes, some gifts are different and are given in different proportions. And that’s okay! The question we need to focus on is “how can I use the gifts the Lord has given me?” At the end of the parable, the servant with five talents and the servant with two talents both received the same reward because they used their talents them wisely. Let us turn away from jealousy and comparison, and ask the Lord for the ability to see the gifts we have received and for the strength to use those gifts for his glory.

Father  Michael