The pot boils over on the stove as the smoke alarm goes off . . . just a typical evening in the Smillie household. In fact, as I type this, I’m remembering that said smoke alarm is still smothered between the couch cushions in the front living room, a result of my domestic foray into attempting a tasty roast chicken for dinner last night that, while delicious, ended up being a tad bit roast-y.
This morning, I rooted through a huge bin of laundry to extract clean uniform items for my youngest. A few turns in the dryer made them presentable, and I ran them upstairs, waking him urgently (once again), and imploring him to get ready quickly . . . we were running behind, as usual.
All of this doesn’t bode well for me in regards to today’s first reading. The Proverbs 31 wife has always irked me. Not because of some ultra-feminist leanings on my part, but in the utter unreachability of it all. I squirm in my seat at Mass, hoping my husband doesn’t start looking around for someone else who fits the bill of this perfect wife and mother. And maybe it really is all my fault that (according to the responsorial psalm) our children are not like olive branches around our table—more like loud, wild branches of undisciplined thorns? (*cringe*)
On the other hand, I can completely relate to the poor servant in the Gospel, who was given only one talent. After watching the master generously dispose of his talents, he tosses a measly one the last servant’s way. I can imagine this servant’s fear of losing the only talent he has. Of hesitating to make use of it, and instead burying it deep in the ground for safe keeping. As a child, I understood these actions and felt sorry for the harsh consequences this servant endured upon the return of the master. As an adult, though, I can see it differently.
As an adult, I understand and have firsthand knowledge of the uneven distribution of talents. I used to become indignant at the seeming unfairness of it all. Why couldn’t I be the mom whose home is brimming with cute decorations and delicious smells, whose laundry is always neat and folded, my children always helpful and cheerful, bringing joy to our days? It has taken me a long time to stop looking around at the gifts and talents bestowed on others by God, and instead to focus on my own—to glory in my very own gifts handpicked for me by my loving Father—the absolute very best gifts for me, to be my help and comfort in this unique journey to holiness that I have been asked to travel. And it’s somewhat daunting to realize that it is through the use of our gifts and talents that God has asked us to work out our salvation. Burying them is no good. It will not achieve anything, and in fact, a misuse of our talents results in them being taken from us and given to another. For the Kingdom of God will be victorious, whether we partake in the journey or not. Rather harsh, but it moves us to action, and more importantly, it moves us to trust and love.
For you see, as the second reading states, we are not children of darkness, but rather children of the light; children of the day. We step forward in faith, armed with our talents, confident in love that God our Father has not given these talents to us in vain. Rather, he will bless our efforts, and reap ten-fold what he has sown in our hearts.