“Well done. You are an industrious and reliable servant. Since you were dependable in a small matter, I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come share your master’s joy.” These are the words we hear this weekend in the Scripture readings. This is about Judgment Day. And it has a sense of finality to it, doesn’t it? Well, it should.
St. Francis de Sales wrote: “Consider the majesty with which the sovereign Judge will appear, surrounded by all the angels and saints. Before him will be borne his cross, shining more brilliantly than the sun, the standard of mercy to the good and of punishment to the wicked. By his awful command, which will be swiftly carried out, this sovereign Judge will separate the good from the bad, placing the one at his right hand and the other at his left. It will be an everlasting separation and after it these two groups will never again be together. When this separation has been made and all consciences laid bare, we will clearly see the malice of the wicked and the contempt they have shown for God, and we will also see the repentance of the good and the effect of the graces they received from God. Nothing will lie hidden.” (Introduction to the Devout Life, Part I, Chapter 14)
In the next life, nothing will be hidden. In this life, one thing in particular should never be hidden: our God-given gifts, abilities, talents, skills and graces. Today’s Gospel issues a stern and stark warning: we must not return unused, the gifts (no matter how great or small) that God gives us.
To be sure, to invest these gifts in the lives of others requires our willingness to take risks. There are few guarantees in life. We cannot be certain on any given day how well we will use our gifts, to say nothing of whether or not our gifts will be appreciated, honored, accepted or welcomed by others. Still, we must endeavor to take prudent care of and make good use of our God-given time, talents and treasure in this effort: the risks that we take in generously share ourselves with others should not be rash or reckless.
But as risky as naming, embracing and investing our gifts might be, we must never allow the anxieties of an uncertain world to tempt us to do the unthinkable: to bury our talents. To act as if we possessed nothing with which to give honor to God or to meet the needs of others is far worse than any mistake, we might generally make on any given day in using our abilities.
To be sure, we will make mistakes in our attempts to make good use of our God-given graces. But there is no greater mistake than to live our lives as if we had no gifts to use in the service of God or others by burying them: obscuring them from the light of day.
When in doubt, keep them out: for you – for God, and for others – to see. And, in the process, share your Master’s joy…today!