Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time 2011 (Year A)
There was a young Filipino guy who was born from a very poor family. At a young age, he was forced to work to support his mother and all his 5 siblings after his father left the family for another woman. He worked in the dangerous streets of General Santos City in the Philippines selling breads and other bakery goods. But he realized that he had something more to offer to the world than just being a street vendor. He discovered he had a passion for boxing. He worked for it, nurtured it with his incredible speed and the amazing power of his left hand. To cut the long story short, through boxing he earned the name not only for himself or for his family but also to all Filipinos everywhere in the world. Because of his firm determination to develop what he’s got, Emmanuel or Manny Pacquiao as he is popularly known, is now one of the inspiring figures in the Philippines. Because of his absolute determination, he becomes the only boxer in the world to earn world titles in eight weight divisions. Aside from that he is now one of the billionaires in the Philippines. In fact tomorrow he is playing again in Las Vegas against a Mexican boxer. But one thing that struck me of him, is that despite his overwhelming wealth, he doesn’t forget who puts him to where is now…Just before every match he had, he would stay on one corner of the ring, makes the sign of the cross. And every after match, he would have a holy mass said in the hotel where he stays, to thank God for what he had done.
Why am I telling you all these?
Because our gospel today invites us to make use of our talents and abilities according to what God has given us. Like Manny Pacquiao, we all have something more to offer to the world. Each one of us has something not to be kept for ourselves but to share it and invest it. As in our gospel today, the master entrusts his servant a certain capital to develop. Isn’t it an amazing thing, that God entrusts us of certain skills, talents, abilities to develop? And if we examine carefully our gospel, the master punished the third servant NOT because he misused his talents, but because he didn’t do anything about it. He didn’t invest it. Yes, God wants us to make use of what we have and on what we are here for. In the end he doesn’t expect us to be PERFECT in using it. He just wants us to make GOOD use of it, whatever it might be. This is therefore a point for our self-examination.
How to make use of our TALENT?
I would suggest the word TALENT as an acronym.
First T- TRY. There is no harm in trying they say. Sometimes we are afraid to try because we think we might fail. We just have to take time for it. Jesus would tell us the same thing today in the person of the Master, ‘INVEST it while ‘I’m gone.’
Second A- Accept. Whatever talent we have, God gives us that because he knows that we are capable of developing it. We just have to accept this. The opposite attitude to this is envy. We envy other people’s success because they have something which we don’t have. God want us to be who we are, not to be who we are not.
Third L- Love it. It is very important to love our skills. The athletes, the successful people did not just become successful overnight. Because they love what they have, they developed it, by making sacrifices, discipline, and self-control. They are willing to sacrifice for love of who they are and for who they can become.
Fourth E- Engage. Engage with people. We must share our talents. Not one person here or in the whole world can honestly claim, that he or she has got all the talents God can give. This is so because we need each other. We need to engage with each other and grow together.
Fifth N- Nurture it. We need to train ourselves, to practice, to do every possible way we can to make the best of our talents. We can nurture it through our relationships with others…not to become the JACK of all trades but a Master of None.
Sixth letter is T- the most important one, THANK GOD for his gifts to us, for entrusting us his riches. Yesterday, I watched the News of Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas as he prepared for his fight tomorrow, he had a bible study with his whole entourage and he said words to this effect: “Sometimes if we are very successful in life, we tend to forget God, we tend not to thank him for his help. But in all our successes and even failures in life, He is always there, with us.”
So, as we continue the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, let’s pray that God moves us to discover our unique, individual and personal talents. Let’s us also pray that he would help us to TRY, ACCEPT, LOVE, ENGAGE NURTURE, and TRUST Him by THANKING HIM for his trust on us. Amen.