God-Given Talents



Five, Two and One


God entrusts his possessions to us. Please note the pronoun, “his.” The Creator loaned us, the created, talents to be entrusted. Entrusted – to be kept safe but never hidden away, shared with all but owned by none, individually encouraging toward others to excel personally in their talents and gifts, and also achieve a degree of satisfaction within ourselves for the good we perform every day. (Once in awhile, patting yourselves on the back is good for your spiritual and physical health.) That’s what entrusted means.

We are finally globally realizing that as a planet we need to work together. How many centuries did it take us silly, selfish humans to own that simple principle? But alas, if you can’t get along with your next door neighbor then how do you expect France to work with Spain or North Korea with their neighbor, South.

The requirement for giving the talents was to earnestly invest them to a higher amount, toward a greater end. The talent of each of our lives is not be lived solo for ourselves but to continually reach out to others in kindnesses, mutual trust and rebuilding bridges that so often get tattered and torn.

In the midst of all this talent stuff, we need to be reminded of life’s number one sin. Do you know what it is? I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s selfishness. It is idolatry. It’s not the idolatry of the golden calf that Edward G. Robinson built while Charlton Heston was on top of the mountain; this is the idolatry precisely centered around the most important person in the world, Moi.

The master knew what the third guy would do with his one talent, that’s why he received only one while the others got more. The third guy was only looking after himself after grasping the one talent he held in his hand, never to invest or share with others. The third guy indeed “went off and dug a hole” and placed himself inside of it. He buried himself to protect himself. His only perimeters about living life were his shoulders. He defended only himself out of a childish, selfish fear. That’s the number one sin within us all. The man sends the third guy into darkness. I find that amusing because the third guy was already in a selfish darkness. The master only named it for the third guy.

Catholic confessions ought to be easy from now on. I don’t need your list. Just say, “Father, I’ve been selfish.” I don’t need the quantity or when you last went to confession. And, I don’t need the details, I know about them from my own life. God only needs to hear that you admit to centering your life around the unique person that you think you are. That’ll save you from saying wrenching stories and saves me time hearing them. We both win in God’s eyes.

Did you know that priests can have Mass all by themselves? It’s an old custom that’s gone away but not entirely. I wonder what the Sign of Peace looks like when the priest is all by himself. And, if I’m not mistaken it’s called “Mass,” as in “a mass of people” for a reason.

But, please beware. There’s a risk in community living. You don’t always get your way when compromise is the solution, you are not the center of attention in a community in spite of the volume of your voice, and entering late to make a grand entrance is merely petty self-indulgence.

The talents the master handed out wasn’t coins to be invested. The man was handing out uncertainties when “two or three are gathered in my name,” he placed insecurities in their hands when their opinion is one among many. He gave them a pocketful of hopeful chancey-ness all wrapped up in a divine trust, a communal belief system, and a firm conviction in the goodness and worth of other people.

We each become larger people because of the larger people who surround us. (And I don’t mean the wide, physical width of Milwaukeeans but the inspiration and innovation that communal life brings forth.)

Thanksgiving is around the corner and families again gather. I’ve eaten Thanksgiving meals alone. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Good food, like good sacraments, are always enjoyed and much more pregnant with God’s hope when eaten together as the “Body of Christ.”


Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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