Every one of us have been entrusted with gifts from God. However, for some, when we are troubled or uncertain about ourselves, it can be difficult to identify what these gifts are or even acknowledge that they exist. But every single person ever conceived has been given gifts by God. This is one of the reasons life is so important, life is precious. We are made in the image and likeness of God and every one of us has a purpose; we are all here for a reason. We may never find out what our purpose is, but as St John Henry Newman said

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”1

When read alongside the parable in today’s Gospel, is it any wonder that the master in the parable; who represents God; was angry with the servant who had wasted the talents given to him. Everything we receive from God is meant to be used; we are not meant to keep anything for ourselves.

Do we recognise the talents God has given us?

Do we use them, or do we bury them so that no one else would know we have them?

Do we recognise that we are ‘a link in a chain’, as St John Henry Newman said?

For parts of my life, I tried to convince myself that I had little in the way of talents [some of you may agree, lol], but when I consider those times, I was being like the lazy servant; not prepared to risk in case I lost what I already had. At times I have been paralysed into inaction by a kind of ‘imposter syndrome’, failing to recognise that I have something to offer; scared in case people find out that I am not the person they think I am.

Burying the talents we have is not the answer; God has given us our gifts, our talents for a purpose. We need to use them to build up God’s kingdom and to support those around us. As Christians our Christianity is not meant to stop when we go out the doors of the church building, we are meant to take the Church out into the world; other people are meant to know we are Christians by our love. The more we use the talents God has given us, the more joy we will have because we are doing the will of the Father.

One way of taking our joy out into the world is by looking after the most vulnerable in our society. I was saddened this week to hear that the planned Night shelter in Basingstoke will not be happening this winter. There may well be other initiatives to support homeless people; hopefully the Local Authority will be able to house them for at least the coldest months. But please look out for these brothers and sister on the streets and if you can buy them a hot drink or a hot snack then please do. If you don’t have the resources to do this, then please just say hello to them; don’t walk past them; acknowledge them.

It would be remiss of me; as a married man; not to touch on the first reading where we hear about the perfect [or in some translations, the capable] wife. This beautiful piece of prose from the Book of Proverbs highlights some of the things a wife brings to a marriage. I am reminded of a quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen when speaking about the Sacrament of Marriage “The man is the “head” of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church. What did Christ do for the Church as her Head? He died for it. Hence, husbands must show love to their wives. The “headship” is not overlord-ship, but love unto sacrifice. The wife, in her turn, will show to the husband the devotion and love the Church does to Christ.”2 Marriage is a gift from God; which allows men and women to show others the love God has given to all, this is a sacrificial love, of putting the other first. For those of us who have been given the gift of a good spouse, we thank the Lord.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Vigil Mass at Tadley on the 4th November, as Fr Patrick was celebrating that Mass, we could hardly hear ourselves for the noise of the fireworks going off all around the area. Afterwards we both said that it was like a war zone. We are fortunate, we know that these loud bangs; whilst a nuisance; are only fireworks. Our thoughts went out to the people in war torn areas like Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and others, where similar noises mean they are under attack. One of the greatest gifts we have been given by God is the gift of prayer. We need to redouble our efforts to pray for peace. As a species we have become very good at killing one another. As I said earlier; every life is precious; no human has the right to end the life of another. May God bring peace to the world and change the hearts of all who do evil.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 2006-2011: our merits for good works come from God’s goodness
CCC 1038-1041: our works manifested at the Last Judgment
CCC 1048-1050: keeping busy as we await the Lord’s return
CCC 1936-1937: diversity of talents
CCC 2331, 2334: dignity of woman
CCC 1603-1605: marriage in the order of creation

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Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The success of the Money Coaching sessions, which finishes next Thursday at St Bede’s.

1 Quote by John Henry Newman: “God has created me to do Him some definite serv…” (goodreads.com)

2 Fulton Sheen on the Sacrament of Marriage – SpiritualDirection.com