On this 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Times, year A, the gospel reading (Matthew 25:14-30) highlights some essential values that we should consider as we live out the glorious life God has given us. The story is about a man who invested in his three servants (one he gave five talents, another he gave two talents, and the last he gave one talent), all according to their abilities, and on his return, from a journey, called them in to give him an account of what they did with the investment. The first made a 100% return, and so did the second. Buy the third buried his own, did nothing with it, blamed his master, and gave excuses for his non-performance.
My friends, we are no different from these servants. When the Lord brought us into this world, he equipped us with all kinds of skills, talents, and abilities different from anybody else's. These resources are given to us in our state of life and the unique circumstances of our being, with the hope that we will do something with them and grow into the best versions of ourselves. But two things in life can frustrate our ability to do this—Focus on what we don’t have and blaming others and giving excuses.
There is always a tendency in life to focus on what we do not have—if only I had more money, if only I had a different job, if only I had this talent or that ability, if only I had a better upbringing, if only I had supportive parents, if only, if only, if only … Yet within us lie enormous strengths, talents, gifts, and skills that we can work with and grow. In “Letters of a Young Poet,” Rainer Maria Rilke makes a beautiful case when she says, “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” Many people have had less of what we have right now and still made it in life. While our background and circumstances may have impacts upon us, there is something we have, something within us that is sufficient for us to plant our seed and blossom. The Bible tells us that to those who use well what they are given, “even more will be given, but to unfaithful, even the little they have will be taken away.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, had this to say: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” The third servant failed because he buried his thoughts in excuses instead of freeing them up for the opportunity. He traded success with complaints. Excuses are usually behind complaints. Unfortunately, complaining has a way of frustrating the ability to focus on the work at hand, depletes the energy needed to work on goals, and takes attention away from our strengths, as it focuses on what other people are doing rather than what I need to do. Complaining takes a lot of time and energy, and the truth is that if we have time to whine and complain about something, then we likely have the time and energy to do something more productive. The lazy servant had time to dig a hole and bury his talent but not time to go to the bank and invest the money. My friends, it is always good to remember that we, not others, are responsible for what we become in life. May God bless us with the grace to fruitful in our endeavors!