THE talent

Aug 26, 2022

Three servants are each given talents (in proportion to their ability) to look after while the master is away. (ref Mt:25)

Each of us have been given talents. But few of us appreciate exactly what talents we have been given.

We think that a talent is something we do well, perhaps an interest we have developed into an expertise or a personal skill we have practiced into a prize-winning achievement.

While such dedication and discipline wins earthly praise, these labours are often of our own choosing and preference and may well not be the talent given to us by God.

Spiritual growth brings us to a place of freedom where we can take or leave the “talent” that everyone praises us for and open ourselves to the talent that God has given to us.

As we mature we realise that the thing we thought of as our talent may have more to do with our need for earthly security and stability than the whole-hearted embracing of the gift of life.

Each of the servants in today’s scripture received talents which were not of their own creation or choosing. Chances are that they each had their own preferences, projects and goals, personal ambitions and plans for excellence.

Two of the three were willing to shift a good amount of their time and energy to what the master had given them. The third was not interested enough and settled for burial of the talent.

It’s clear too that the first two servants had a relationship with and respect for their master and they saw this unexpected request (to look after the talents) as a vocational call, an opportunity to respond to an invitation, to mature themselves by taking a well-discerned risk, and doing something good for the one they were happy to serve.

The third servant lived in fear: “‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,… so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.”  He was afraid and unable to enter the adventure of life.

Faith is not a simple keeping of rules, a rigid adherence to religious norms backed up by the doing of good deeds. This may be good religion which is effective only when it brings us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. who is God-with-us.

So how do I know what talents Jesus is giving to me?

There is a simple way to know this. A guaranteed and precise way. In my experience this way is the daily way, the normal method that God uses to give me talents:

Whatever circumstance I find myself in, good or bad, wanted or unwelcome… this circumstance (while not always caused by God), is allowed by God for my maturity and growth. This circumstance is the talent I am given in this moment.

Then there are the people. The people both welcome and unwelcome, the friends and the enemies, whoever is before me in this moment… this person, these people, are the talents I am given by God in these moments.

In awareness of this method of God, every moment, every moment becomes and opportunity for growth in relationship with Jesus.

In this ultimate relationship  faith is a life-giving adventure.


  1. Such an inspiring read by St Augustine!! Thank you, Father!

  2. Thank you John. Deeply appreciate your ‘talents’ to bring a deeply reflective, interior dimension to our discipleship. In the midst of so much current exhortation to be active it is refreshing and vital to be faced with the one thing necessary as St Augustine saw so long ago. Thank you for posting his timeless prayer. Arohanui.

  3. GOD fitted US” with
    Unique talents,
    That in itself is a miracle,and
    Reminds me
    To be patient,with other peoples
    GOD GIVEN Talents,
    Never thought of that,I
    Have learned a new way
    To be patient
    Thankyou Very Much
    Fr John,
    “My inhaler the other day,
    Now this way of viewing patience”
    My mind is being creatively

  4. I can’t believe how timely your explanation of the idea of “talents” is. Just at a time when I was sinking into a well of self-pity ! Feeling I had nothing to offer! Thank you

  5. Looked at anew, I can’t help thinking one of the talents our Lord has given me is the gift of faith. And how well I have kept it buried for a good many years, waiting for the time I could return it to my master. What a fool I’ve been! Driven by vanity and foolish pride, I managed for years to keep my treasure hidden, not realising that God had invested in me so that he could get a return. That was never going to happen while I kept my talent buried. Took a while but now I’m making up for lost time, thanks be to God.


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