By Deacon Jerry Franzen – St. Henry Parish 11/7/04
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thess. 2:16 – 3:5 Luke 20: 27-38
My sixth grade teacher, Sr. Catherine David,
told my mother that I was lazy
and that sending me to the Latin School would be good for me.
And I think that during each of my years at the Latin School
the headmaster, Msgr. Mielech, read to us
the parable of the talents
from the 25th Chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel.
That’s the one about the man going on a journey,
who leaves his assets in the hands of three servants.
A unit of coinage of the day was called a “talent.”
Two servants invested their shares of the talents
and were able to double their shares of the assets.
One servant buried his share of talents.
He was afraid to use the assets given to him.
The master was not pleased with this last servant.
Msgr. Mielech would then go on to say that some of us,
after we graduated, would find ourselves
“pumping gas,” at a gas station.
In those days that job was equivalent
to today’s well known position of “flippin’ burgers.”
The Msgr. would continue by saying
that surely one of our classmates
would drive into the gas station in a nice big shiny new Cadillac.
That was a sign in those days that one had made it.
The “pump jockey” would then say, “Oh, he was lucky.”
Msgr. Mielech would then tell us that
it wouldn’t be a matter of luck at all.
It would all come down to whether we each used those gifts
that God had given each of us.
Sr. Catherine David knew that God had given me certain gifts,
gifts that would allow me to excel academically.
She didn’t want to see those abilities wasted;
she wanted to be sure that I didn’t bury those talents.
I thank God that Mom and Dad said,
“You’re off to the Latin School,
no “ifs”, “ands” or “buts” about it.”
Msgr. Mielech emphasized the belief that
these gifts were precious, that they were from God,
and it wasn’t just that we had to use them to better ourselves,
but that we had a responsibility to God
to develop and use the gifts that he had given each of us.
We are each in danger of becoming lazy,
of burying our gifts, our talents.
It’s easier to just not work to use our gifts,
because it does take work to develop our talents;
it takes practice to play a musical instrument;
it takes work to become a master gardener;
it takes lots of experience to become a skilled office manager.
Oh, it’s less risky if we just bury our talents.
No one will laugh at me, if I never speak in public.
No one can shun me, if I never show that I care.
No one can disagree with me, if I never try to understand.
If I start testing the waters of my talents,
I may expose some of my faults.
God has given each of us special gifts, special talents,
and it is our responsibility, not a choice,
a responsibility, to use the gifts God has given us.
Each of us must use our talents to help
to bring about God’s kingdom here on earth.
This is how we are good stewards of God’s gifts.
It means using our gifts to do what we can
to improve our own relationship to God.
AND to help others grow closer to God.
But God has done more than just given us the gifts.
In today’s second reading,
Paul prayed in his letter to the Thessalonians:
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them
in every good deed and word.”
That prayer has been answered.
God has backed up these gifts with his love,
his everlasting encouragement,and good hope through grace.
He encourages and strengthens us in all we say and do.
So it’s not like God gives us the talents,
tells us to develop and use them
and then says “Good luck”
and then steps back to watch us fall flat on our face.
God is right there next to us, in the person of the Holy Spirit,
to support us,and if we do fall flat,
to encourage and strengthen us to pick ourselves up
and take another shot at what we have tried.
Today, as the second part of the series of talks on stewardship,
I am asking each of you to consider
how you have been the good stewardof the talents God has given to you.
Have you been lazy, preferring not to use your gifts?
God is urging you to get moving.
Have you been fearful of using your gifts?
God is right there ready to support you.
Do you think that you have no gifts to contribute?
Do a little exploring to find out what your gifts might be.
Maybe no one has ever asked you to use your gifts?
Being asked is important.
When I was in college, either my junior or senior year,
the Sisters of Noter Dame asked me
and several of my college classmates
to come to the convent at St. Joseph heights
to be servers for the Easter Vigil.
I didn’t know much about the Easter Vigil in those days,
but I did know that you just can’t say “No” to the sisters.
I had been an altar server in grade school
and had sung in choirs in grade and high school,
but my participation in these ministries
was largely the decision of my parents.
The instance with the sisters was probably the first time
that, as an adult,
I was asked to use my gifts in service to the Church,
and I made the decision to respond in the affirmative.
Being asked to contribute one’s talents is important.
It lets those asked know that they are needed.
Today, I am asking each of you to give consideration
to how you will be able to contribute your talents
to various ministries and projects here at the parish.
You will, in the next couple of weeks,
be receiving in the mail a commitment form
that will ask you to consider how
you may be able to help in the various aspects
of parish life here at St. Henry.
I ask you to give prayerful consideration
to how you may volunteer.
Give prayerful consideration to the time you have to volunteer.
God doesn’t want us to be overcommitted.
If you know that you have a particular talent that you enjoy,
consider volunteering for something in that realm.
If you are unsure of your talents,
try something that you think that you might like.
And above all, remember God is right there
to love you, to encourage you,
to give you hope through his grace,
to encourage your heart and strengthen you
in each of your deeds and words.
BUT, don’t do it JUST because I have said we need your help,
or JUST because Fr. Ryan
or Fr. George says that we need your gifts,
or JUST because the Parish Council
or the Stewardship Committee
says that we need your talents.
Do it because God has placed his gifts within each of us
for an expressed purpose.
Do it because God needs each of us
to help to build his kingdom here at St. Henry Parish.