We all recognise talents in different ways; often we will find ourselves in awe of or envious of the talents we see in other people. For example, growing up, all I wanted to be was good at football, but I was normally one of the last to be chosen when the teams were being picked and promptly put in goal. As adults we can appreciate the talents of great artists, sculptors, musicians, authors and architects, as Christians we recognise that all talents have been allocated by God as gifts and that everyone has talents which God expects us to use.

In our Gospel St Matthew recalls the parable of the talents when Jesus is teaching us that talents have to be used and they have to grow. Those who do not use their God given talents will suffer severe punishment.

If we look carefully at the Gospel reading, we can see that each was allocated their talents in proportion to their ability. This is important, as it indicates that God will not demand anything from us unless He knows we can fulfil it. 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.”

The three servants in the parable were all given a mission, the first two chose to risk their talents and managed through that risk to double what they were given. The third servant was risk averse or as portrayed in the parable he was lazy. He chose not to risk using his single talent but decided to hide his talent by burying it. How often are we tempted to hide the talents we have been given? If as St John Henry Newman says that we are the only person allocated a certain task by God; even though we may never know it; then we are actually going against the will of God by not using the talents we have been allotted.

When we look at our Gospel in conjunction with the second reading we can appreciate that putting off using our talents is not an option either. St Paul reminds his readers that our judgement can come like a thief in the night and urges everyone to remain alert, so that we are prepared for our day of judgement.

We are all called to use our talents to help others. Never has it been more important to ensure that those who have, look after those who do not have. Let’s be clear here, by ‘having’ I don’t just mean temporal things like money or property or what the world sees as riches. Our call from Jesus is far more important than that. Those who have good mental health for example are called to help those who are struggling with their mental health. Those who have confidence are called to help those who are shy. Those who have companionship are called to help the lonely. Those who have good health are called to help the sick. All of these are gifts which parts of our community have and which other parts of our community do not have. Jesus expects us, as a Community, to lift those who have little or nothing, those who are struggling, those in need.

November is a particularly hard month for those who have lost a loved one, they may be contemplating a first or another Christmas without their loved one. As a Church we remember the dead in prayer and pray for the comfort of those who grieve. In St Bede’s Church the Baptismal Font; deprived of water due to the Covid restrictions; is being repurposed to house notes of the names of the dearly departed, the Baptismal Candle burns alongside firmly forging the links between our Baptism and that first light which heralded the Resurrection. This is a beautiful tribute to our deceased loved ones and a reminder to all those who are using the Church for private prayer at this time, of the love we as a Community have for our deceased brothers and sisters.

Next week we hope to launch a Zoom call to allow people within the Parish to come together, initially just to share a cup of tea together, but we hope this will lead to other initiatives. For example, the RCIA programme will continue this Wednesday as a Zoom call. In the Tadley and Burghfield parishes, people have come together on a Friday evening to pray the Rosary asking Our Lady to intercede for us for an end to this pandemic. The technology is here and present, it is up to us to use it to deepen our faith, to reach out to others and to ensure that no-one in our Community is left behind. All ideas are welcome, please get in touch via the email address at the bottom of this reflection if you would like to support this or have suggestions to help enrich our Community during this lockdown period.

The greatest talent, which we have all been given is prayer. Prayer allows us to enter into dialogue with God. Prayer allows us to ask God for help, help for our neighbour and ourselves. Prayer allows us to remember those we love who are living and dead. Prayer allows us to ask our Father in Heaven for help, recognising that we are unable to do everything under our own power because the God who created us has not forgotten us and allows us to call Him our Father.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Deceased family members, parishioners and friends and especially those who have no one else to pray for them.
  • Those who do not recognise their talents, that they can identify and use them for the good of many.
  • Those struggling to risk using their talents, that they will trust in God and use them to bear fruit.
  • Our doctors, nurses, medical staff and care workers, unpaid carers and all other keyworkers as the Coronavirus seems to be spreading further again.
  • Our priests and others who live alone; as we live through this lockdown period, may they be encouraged by our prayers.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 13th November 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.