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February 10, 2008

16th in MatthewFrgeorge

Today's Gospel Lesson, related to us the Parable of the talents. The Lord's Parables were preached by the Lord, mainly to give vivid teachings to those, who would listen. All the eternal teachings constitute spiritual manna, which nourishes us and edifies us, so that we steadily walk on the path, that leads to salvation. From today's Gospel Lesson, we can readily see our fellow humans, and indeed ourselves. Thus, we can honestly submit ourselves to a personal appraisal, in order that we can see, in which category we have classified our own person.

The Scriptural text we heard today, stated that a man before traveling to a far off country, summoned his servants, to whom he distributed some of his goods. To one servant he gave 5 talents, to another 2 and to another 1 talent. He gave them proportionately, and according to their ability to increase these talents.

After a long absence, the master returned and called together his servants for an accounting. The one who received 5 talents, stepped forth and said: "Lord, you gave me 5 talents, and I labored, so as to have doubled them." The Lord replied: "Well done you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things. Enter now into the joy of your Lord!" Matt. 25:23. The one, who had received 2 talents also stated, that he too had doubled the amount given him.

This servant received the same blessing, and heard the same words expressed by the Lord to the person, who had doubled the 5 talents.
Lastly, the servant who received one talent replied indignantly saying: "Lord, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown; and I was afraid, lest I lose the talent; so I went and hid it into the ground. Here now, I am returning to you your talent, just as you gave it to me, before you left us." Matt: 25:24-25

The Lord rebuked him saying: "You wicked and slothful servant; you knew that I reap where I have not sown; but you could have deposited the talent with the money changers, so that there could have been added a certain interest." Matt:25:26. The Lord then took the one talent, and handed it to the one, who had gained an additional 5 talents. Looking at the wicked servant, the master said: "Cast this unprofitable servant into the outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and the gnashing of teeth." Matt:25:30.

All humans belong to one of these two categories. That is, the ones who doubled the talents given to them, and the other, who buried his talent. God gave everyone various talents. It is up to the individual, to make good use of the God-given talents, or conversely, bury them in the earth, like the unfaithful servant, where they can never produce any good, nor be of any value to anyone.

A natural question could then arise: "Why is it, that God distributes these talents unequally?"

On the surface, it may appear that way, but, if we attempt to understand God's plan, we shall agree, that this variety of talents given to us all, is the greatest factor for harmony and progress.

Furthermore, we must understand, the full Biblical meaning, when the Lord states, that He gave everyone talents, according to one's particular ability, -- and that He will expect the returns accordingly.

We all must realize, and firmly believe, that all good and perfect gifts come from Above, from the Father of Lights, as St. James tells us in his Epistle, which words are also included in the last prayer of the Liturgy, heard just a few minutes ago.

Consequently, the talents of all people, are free gifts from God, so that there cannot be any room for boasting, regarding any of our personal qualifications. These talents, as in the Parable, are given to us in trust, and the fact, that the Giver of all gifts still retains the claim on them. They are given to us, to be employed and expended to the best account for the Glory of God, and of course for the benefit to all, who choose to make good and proper use of the talents given them.

The proper use of these talents, will not only insure a person's happiness upon this earth, but will also bring the commendation of the Lord, when He shall say: "Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over few things. I shall make you ruler over many things; enter now into the joy of your Lord."

So it is, that our talents, being God's gift to all humans as a trust, should be used to glorify God; and we glorify God, by being truthful; ---- by applying His Commandments in our life; by our sincere relationship with Him, which expresses itself by our actions and attitude to our fellow human beings.

Being trustees of these talents, it is our duty to constantly increase and promote them. These talents are varied, and come under the headings of intellect, of wisdom, of learning, of riches, of honor, of courage, of strength, of zeal, of unshakable faith, and numerous others, through which we honor God, the Giver of all gifts.

But, the question remains: "Do we realize that we possess certain talents, and what our obligation is, to promote them? Are we really conscious of them, so that we may be able to return them doubly at least, when the Lord shall ask us for the accounting?"

Unfortunately, experience proves, that far too many people, do not associate God with their talents. They fail to realize, that they have been given gifts, and that they are no more than trustees of their talents.

Failing to realize this, --- that they are simply trustees of their God-given talents, they naturally become self-centered, egotistical and selfish, using all these wonderful gifts, which they claim as their own, to promote themselves, with no direct benefit to any of their fellow humans!

We all have read it, or we have heard many times, people boasting, because of their material or intellectual achievements saying: "I'm a self-made person, etc." They unashamedly continue to pat themselves on their back. When it is possible to investigate the life and background of these braggarts, to be sure, we shall not find any of their threads, interwoven with society, or with their fellow humans.

The talents of these self-centered, egotistical people are truly wasted, because they are used selfishly for self promotion. Truly, they have buried their God-given talents into the ground. Their abuse, or misuse of their talents, will surely bring about the condemnation, as heard in today's Gospel, regarding the wicked servant: "cast this unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth."

People must come to the realization, that everything one possesses on earth, in actuality does not really belong to oneself. Somehow though, we tend to totally forget, that we are God's stewards, and that we must manage well, all the talents, which He has given to us. Proof of this is, that no one takes anything, when the Lord calls. But one does take with him or her, their good works and deeds, which honor themselves and God.

Regardless if one chooses to believe otherwise, we are God's stewards, or administrators here upon the earth, whether we possess one talent or ten, and that we must make every effort to increase these talents, for the spreading of God's Kingdom upon this earth. You may remember that Jesus said: "Not the one who raises his hands high and repeats, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven; but the one who does the will of my Father, Who is in Heaven." Matt. 7:21.

All the good and lasting things come from God, and are entrusted to us, and that one day they shall be returned to Him! Then, and only then, will God give His Grace to us, and give us the re­assurance: "Well done, you good and faithful servant; enter now into the joy of your Lord."

Thus, the great questions still remain: "Do we recognize any of our talents? And if we do, are we taking the proper action to multiply these talents within the Christian parameters?"

To these questions, only we, ourselves are in a position to supply the answers. We must never forget, that "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word, that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3
 
+ Fr. George Papadeas

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“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15