On Investing Our Talents

"The Mistaken Attitude Is That of Fear"

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Word of God this Sunday -- the penultimate of the liturgical year -- invites us to be vigilant and active, in awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus at the end of time. The Gospel passage tells the parable of the talents, reported by St. Matthew (25:14-30). The "talent" was an ancient Roman coin of great value and precisely on account of the popularity of this parable it has become synonymous with personal gifts, which everyone is called to develop.

In reality, the text speaks of "a man who, going abroad, called his servants and handed over his goods to them" (Matthew 25:14). The man in the parable represents Christ himself, the servants are his disciples and the talents are the gifts that Jesus gives them. For this reason such gifts, apart from natural qualities, represent the riches that the Lord Jesus has left us as a legacy, so that we bear fruit with them: his Word, deposited in the holy Gospel; baptism, which renews us in the Holy Spirit; prayer -- the "Our Father" -- that we address to God as sons united in the Son; his forgiveness, which he commanded to be brought to all; the sacrament of his immolated Body and his Blood that he poured out. In a word: the Kingdom of God, which is Christ himself, present and living among us.

This is the treasure that Jesus has entrusted to his friends, at the end of his brief life on earth. Today's parable considers the interior attitude with which this gift is accepted and valued. The mistaken attitude is that of fear: The servant who fears his master and fears his return, hides the coin in the ground and it does not produce any fruit. This happens, for example, to those who, having received baptism, Communion, and confirmation bury such gifts beneath prejudices, a false image of God that paralyzes faith and works, so as to betray the Lord's expectations.

But the parable puts greater emphasis on the good fruits born by the disciples who, happy at the gift received, did not hide it with fear and jealously, but made it fruitful, sharing it, participating in it. Indeed, what Christ gives us is multiplied when we give it away! It is a treasure that is made to be spent, invested, shared with all, as the Apostle Paul, that great administrator of Jesus' talents, has taught us.

The Gospel teaching, which the liturgy offers us today, has even entered into the historical and social sphere, promoting an active mentality among Christian populations. But the central message regards the spirit of responsibility with which the Kingdom of God is to be accepted: responsibility toward God and toward humanity. This attitude is perfectly incarnated in the heart of the Virgin Mary who, receiving the most precious of gifts, Jesus himself, offered him to the world with great love. Let us ask her to help us to be "good and faithful servants," so that one day we can take part "in the joy of our Lord."

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the crowds in several languages. In English, he said:]

I extend warm greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. May your time in Rome be filled with divine blessings of joy and peace. On this third Sunday of November, we remember in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents. We pray for their eternal rest and for the consolation of their families who grieve their loss. Dear brothers and sisters, I implore everyone - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed carefully the words of Saint Paul in the Liturgy of the Word today: "stay sober and alert". Our behavior on the roads should be characterized by responsibility, consideration and a respect for others. May the Virgin Mary lead us safely along streets and highways throughout the world.

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana