October 12, 2013 – Using Our Talents

You know, maybe being a Cubs fan isn’t as bad as it seems.  While us Cardinal fans are suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation, Cubs fans are once again able to hibernate, get a good night’s sleep, and forget about baseball until February.  On second thought who am I kidding!  I love my Cardinals!  What a game last night!  I certainly hope my Redbirds can keep it up (and keep the games to 9 innings – I’m getting too old for these 13 inning marathons).

Part of the reason that I love sports so much is that I really admire the talents of these pro athletes.  Yes, we can argue about how much they get paid, but I really marvel in seeing a pitcher throw a ball 100 miles per hour, and actually throwing it to the spot he intended.  I marvel in seeing a hitter actually make contact with one of these pitches and hit it over 400 feet away.  I marvel in watching these people do things I can only dream of.

Watching these games and observing other things this week got me to thinking about our talents and how we use them.  God certainly knew what he was doing when He decided that not everyone would be talented at everything, but that everyone would be talented at some things.  Even seemingly simple things.  The other night I sat in on a meeting to plan Fr. Gene’s 40th jubilee celebration in January.  I was listening intently as they talked about color coordination between the tablecloths and napkins, table decorations, trim for the head table, etc.  My initial thoughts in hearing all of this discussion was that I really won’t care if I have a blue or red or polka-dot napkin.  I just want something to wipe my mouth with.  And I really won’t care if there are frilly things on the table or not – just so there is room to set my plate.

However, I then got to thinking.  I may not have an eye for color coordination or decorating, but thank goodness there are some people who do.  If it were left in the hands of people like me, our whole world would probably be beige and white, which would be pretty drab.  On the other hand, I get asked on occasion how I come up with my ideas for my blogs, or how I come up with other things to write.  I did have good teachers who taught me valuable information in school.  But it’s something that just kind of comes to me.  So I guess you could say that maybe that is one of the talents I was able to grab from the pool.

One of the deep questions of life is how a person defines success.  What makes a person successful?  Money, possessions, prestige?  No.  There’s much more to it, but I think a big part of success is discovering what one’s talents are and utilizing them to the fullest.  I think it is shameful when I see what our government wastes money on, but then is willing to cut money from our schools for things such as music, art, building trades, home economics, agriculture, etc.  Don’t we have an obligation to our children to help them discover what their talents are and how to use them?

Jesus gave us a lesson on this very subject.  He tells the parable of the master who goes on a long journey and gives talents to three servants (talents in this case representing money, but following the same idea).  Upon his return, two had invested their talents and provided an enhanced return while the other does not and is condemned as “wicked and slothful.”  Pope Benedict XVI in one of his messages told us that “God calls all men to life and bestows him with talents, while entrusting him with a mission to accomplish.  It would be foolish to think that these gifts are due to us, just as our failing to use them would be a dereliction of the goal of our very existence.”  The third servant “behaved as if his master would not to return, as if there was not a day when he would ask him to account for his activities.”  To refuse to use our gifts or from embarking on our mission “would be a dereliction of the purpose of their (our talents’) existence.”

Our parish and our nation has a wonderful example of an organization that uses its talents for the common good.  Our Knights of Columbus work very hard not only to spread the message of Jesus, but in doing so much to raise funds for different charities (Catholic and non-Catholic).  This past Thursday Pope Francis met with the K of C’s Board of Directors.  He encouraged the Knights of Columbus to continue working towards the renewal of society through their charitable efforts, prayer and the witness of their lives.  He also thanked the Knights for their prayers on his behalf, saying that “on this occasion I also wish to express my gratitude for the unfailing support which your Order has always given to the works of the Holy See.  This support finds particular expression in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is an eloquent sign of your solidarity with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church, but it is also seen in the daily prayers, sacrifices and apostolic works of so many Knights in their local Councils, their parishes and their communities.”

The Vicarius Christi Fund is an initiative that supports the Pope’s personal charities.  It is one of many charitable endeavors run by the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest lay Catholic organization which has more than 1.8 million members throughout the world.  On this Columbus Day weekend, we offer our gratitude to our local Council #3790 for all that they do for our parish and community at large, and to the K of C organization throughout the U.S. for being such a marvelous Catholic presence.

Have a great week.  Go Cardinals!  Peace.

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