We are coming to the end of another church year, a liturgical church year, only two more Sundays in Ordinary time before we enter into a new church year, the Season of Advent. These final Sundays have a slight apocalyptic tone to them. This Sunday we hear from chapter 25 in Matthew’s Gospel, the parable of the talents. The master (God) gives each person talents based on their ability, five to one servant, two to another, and finally one talent is given to the last servant. The first two believe they are empowered to multiply these gifts and make a return to the master who entrusted them with a specific number. The third, out of fear, does nothing but bury the gift and basically stays passive, does nothing to interact in a positive way with others or even the master.
What do we do with the gifts God gives to us? The gifts God expects that we develop, improve or multiply and then give back what was freely given to us. Do we use and develop our gifts, or hoard them and keep them stagnant and unimproved? Let us not let fear get in the way that would prevent us from developing whatever gift or talents God gives to us in order to improve the lives of others.
Last Sunday afternoon, a varied group of people, seniors, families with children, a cross section of parishioners gathered outside Smitty’s shed, formed an assembly line and filled zip lock bags with lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo, hygiene items for people who come to the Home First Shelter on Little Orchard and the shelter in Sunnyvale. It is not our purpose to analyze, diagnose or critique why people find themselves on the street or living out of their cars, but we have thousands of people who, for one reason or another, do not have a permanent roof over their heads here in Silicon Valley.
I think the goal of this small act, collecting and bagging toiletries is to offer people a measure of dignity in a world where those on the margin may not experience much dignity or respect. It is not easy to always be respectful, to see the talents in another person, especially someone who lives in the shadows of society, but they are there with their own stories to share. Listening to those who serve meals, provide a respite from the weather, a hot meal and maybe a shower, say they receive more in return than they ever give. There are countless opportunities to help our brothers and sisters either with food, a kind word, or just a break from the routine of their days, practicing the corporal works of mercy can benefit both the giver and the receiver.
What talent or talents has God given to you? How have you developed them?
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel