Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Nov. 19, 2023 (Matthew 25;14-15,19-21) Our God-Given Gifts Are Meant to be Used.
When we think of “talents”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It’s our abilities and gifts of what God has given to us.
And the parable tells us how we are supposed to utilize these talents.
- God has given each of us a certain number of “talents.”
- In Greek, talents are referred to a large sum of money.
- However, our parable refers more to what the English word implies – all the abilities and blessings we have received from God.
- God has given them to us, and we are free either to waste our gifts, burying them in the hole of self-indulgence, fear, laziness, and greed, or to use them as Christ would have us use them, which is the secret to happiness in this life and the life to come.
Furthermore, our parable mentions, “the master,” which stands for Christ, and the servants, which stands for each one of us. YOU & I!
- Do we think of ourselves as servants, as dependent on God?
- As we face the many challenges in our world, we at times may think and even feel as if we are the center of the universe, that nothing can stop us from succeeding in this life.
But this parable like many others is very clear:
- We are not God, and we are not the center of the world.
- We are dependent upon God,
- and our job in this life – is to know him, love him, and serve him.
- This is our desire for happiness because doing this is what we were created for.
- We were created to know, love, and serve God.
Three fundamental ways of living our lives in fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.
Having some 20+ years of being part of this parish, I have experienced and seen many works of our parishioner’s time, talents, and treasures in their quest to live out their Stewardship Way of Life.
As for me, it started way back in grade school. Growing up in a devout Catholic family, our lives were instilled with the values and morals of living in the light of Christ.
Attending a Catholic school, and being an altar server was the epitome of being up close with the body and blood of Christ.
From there, during my youth life, I was introduced to Search, an organization of catholic teenagers seeking the truth of living a Christian way of Life.
I served as one of the leaders, organizing weekend gatherings and preparing talks to share with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
It was there I also learned how to play guitar from a friend and joined the youth choir.
The word stewardship was never spoken. It was just being part of a group that believed in Christ!
Well, fast forward, moving to Kona from Oahu in 1990, I rediscovered church, St. Michael’s the Archangel.
It was here my journey in ministry was reborn. This was a time in my life I was searching for a way back to the church.
You know when we say, “It’s all in God’s plan”. Well, it’s true, God has a plan for all of us.
This is where I met my wife, Pam, in the choir loft (yes, we had a choir loft). Since I had shared about my “talent” in playing the guitar, I was invited by one of the choir leaders to join them for Sunday mass.
When I saw her with a guitar in hand and heard her voice, I thought I was in heaven, it sounded like an angel in a choir.
From then on, our ministry fast-tracked. We married soon after and began a journey, together with Christ.
Over the next 25+ years in music ministry, we shared our talents here at St. Michael’s Church, St. Benedict’s, and St. John’s the Baptist Church in South Kona, and several years sharing our music ministry at Sacred Hearts Pahoa and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Papaikou.
In between our music ministry, Pam and I served on various committees, parish councils, faith formation classes, and youth groups at the respective parishes we attended.
In these past several years, we have journeyed in a direction that God’s plan was to know him, love him, and serve him, even better.
At times, our ministry took us out of our parish life, caring for loved ones, as what Pam did for her mom for several years.
For me, the journey of becoming a Deacon eluded us from music ministry, but it came with building a closer relationship with Christ to serve him and his people.
Although faced with many trials and tribulations, we stayed focused on Christ which helped pave the path of fulfillment.
Today, our time is a weekly ministry at Life Care Center of Kona with several of our parishioners, sharing the word of God and distributing communion to our Catholic brothers and sisters. We also share our musical talents with the residents with songs to their liking.
On Wednesdays, we devote time to prayer in Adoration with our Blessed Sacrament. We have the Rosary, Divine Mercy, and Evening Prayer, and to end our day, we have Benediction.
And now, in this time of renewal, windows and doors of opportunity are opening for us to journey through.
So, how do we share our time, talents, and treasure?
There are three basic steps we take to invest our gift.
First, we must identify what our gift is.
- We should always thank God for all the countless blessings, but we should also reflect on the one or two strong characteristics or talents that God has given us personally.
- We ask ourselves, what type of thing do we enjoy most?
- What type of activity has always made us excited?
- What characteristics have people always complimented you on?
- And what have we always dreamed of doing but were afraid to get started on?
The second step is to get right with God and stay that way.
For the third servant in our parable, he left his life mission unfulfilled because he didn’t have a good relationship with his master.
- And so, we pray daily. Which for some of us, this is all we can do and that’s ok, we all need prayers.
- We clean our consciences every week or every month by going to confession.
- And we continue to study the Bible and Church teachings.
- This is how we get to know our Lord and Savior and stay connected to the vine, so our talents will bear fruit.
The third step is to put our gift at the service of others.
- Be creative, be courageous, be like Christ!
- He left us his new commandment – to love one another as he has loved us.
- And he showed us what love really is: to give our lives for others.
- We give our lives by putting our talents to the service of those around us instead of just serving ourselves.
Today Jesus will give us the perfect example of this self-giving in this Mass, through the Eucharist.
When we receive him in Holy Communion, let’s promise that we will go out and courageously invest our God-given gifts to serve him and one another.
So, immediately following our mass, our ministry leaders will be available in our south lanai area to share about the various ministries of our parish.
I encourage all, visitors as well, to take this opportunity to refresh your journey with Christ in the four pillars of Stewardship, which stand firm on Hospitality, Prayer, Formation, and Service.
My prayers are with you all as we renew our Stewardship Way of Life.