I wonder what that third servant in the Gospel was doing all that time after he buried the talent he was given. Probably nothing. What strikes me is that the word for money in this reading is “talent,” which in our language is an ability or skill. Maybe this parable can remind us to use our abilities and not let them go to waste. A person might be strong and fast, but if she exercises and practices, she could be a great athlete. The same with spiritual gifts. Just having one doesn’t make you a saint. So how do you know what gifts you have?
First, ask God in your prayers to show you what gifts you have been given. Read the scriptures, especially the Acts of the Apostles or the Letters of Paul (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:1–11). Listen humbly to friends or loved ones who can tell you what strengths they see in you.
Second, look for ways to use your gifts. Check the parish bulletin or website or your diocesan newspaper for activities and organizations that you could take part in. Hospitals, schools, shelters, and nursing homes frequently offer opportunities for volunteers. Or you may see a need for some service that you can get started in the parish or community.
Just remember that you are called to service by your baptism and confirmation. Don’t bury that calling by procrastinating or being afraid to try. Remember the “useless servant” with the one talent who was fearful and lazy (Matthew 25:25–26). At least he can remind us to use it or lose it.
Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications