Drinking Well

Well Done!

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one, each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. 'Sir,' he said 'you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness.'

Next the man with the two talents came forward. 'Sir,' he said 'you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness.'
Last came forward the man who had the one talent. 'Sir,' he said 'I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and lazy servant !...’ (Matthew 25:14-30)


I invite you to remember a time when you did something worthwhile that took a lot of courage and effort. And you are glad now that you did it. You may think of your family and what you did for them: the courage you required at different stages and the hardship. Or you may think of the work you did for a living, in your home or outside, the patience and endurance it required over long years. You may remember the voluntary work you did for relations, neighbours or for your parish or wider community.

You may think of other areas in life to which you have given yourself wholeheartedly. It may have been in the arts: singing, dancing, painting, acting or writing. It may have been in sport or athletics; nowadays we are aware of the amount of discipline and hard work it takes to excel in these areas. Even if you did not achieve any great success, and received little recognition or praise, most likely you are glad that you did what you did.

These experiences enable you to understand the parable of the talents. Those who received the five talents and the two talents had the courage to use them, and they were not afraid of the hard work that this required. When the property owner came back, he was well pleased with their efforts, and he said to each of them, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’

The flowering of creativity
     When this gospel story was read at Mass at this time three years ago, Michael D. Higgins had just given his Inaugural Address as President. In it he promised to do his best to make Ireland a place where everyone is included, and where everyone can be creative and use their talents; ‘We must seek to build together an active, inclusive citizenship; based on participation, equality, respect for all and the flowering of creativity in all its forms.’ He went on to say, ‘our successes in the eyes of so many in the world have been in the cultural and spiritual areas – in our humanitarian, peace-building and human rights work - in our literature, art, drama and song – and in how that drama and song have helped us cope with adversity, soothed the very pain which they describe so well, and opened the space for new possibilities.’

I hid your talent
     The third servant in the parable had only one talent. His problem was not that he had only the one, but that he was afraid to use it. The owner was not impressed by this excuse and called him ‘wicked and lazy.’ While we thank God for the talents we have used, we may do well to think about the talent we have not used either because we are afraid or because we are lazy.
Dom Helder Camara was a saintly archbishop in Brazil who died in 1999; his lifelong commitment to the poor and his simple way of living were, no doubt, a source of inspiration for Pope Francis. Dom Helder was also a poet. This was his poem about the Parable of the Talents.
Not just the man with only one,
but people given five or ten,
instead of reaping double,
become comfortable,
falsely cautious,
falsely humble,
and at harvest home return
in empty-handed barrenness.
Don't call them yet to account.
Wait a moment.
Let me go out
to my brothers,
try to rouse them by my cry.

Prayer: Psalm 90
In the morning, Lord, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on your children.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
Give success to the work of our hands,
Give success to the work of our hands.


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