Each one of us has gifts and talents. All of us have one gift in common, our mortal human life. This one gift allows us to experience and appreciate God’s beautiful creation: the air, water, trees, and all that we see, feel, and experience here on earth.
An experience in the third world, now more that 40 years ago, helped me realize that our most important blessings cannot be purchased or made, they are just freely given.
We live in a highly developed material world, sometimes all we really count as blessings are those things that are human made. It is not uncommon for people of this time and place to feel empty and gypped. They say, “My neighbor has so much more than me. It just isn’t fair…. I want more!! When asked to count their blessings, they scoff, and decry the unfairness of life. These people live with the attitude: “I have little or nothing to offer others because I have been short changed. How can others expect anything from me,” they say, “when I have so little? I have to look after myself and the little I have.” Then one day something frightening happens. They get sick, or a friend or loved one gets sick. In that moment many of these people realize how dumb and short sighted they have been. All of a sudden that which was not considered blessing is threatened, and they realize what a great blessing their own life, or the life of a loved one, really is.
Learning to count our blessings is a talent and might be considered a blessing itself. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have a parent, grandparent, or a friend help and teach us this important skill when we are young. Sometime a situation such as sickness teaches us this lesson. And Maybe, we have never learned how to count our blessings, and its still something we have to learn.
Whatever, our situation, the gospel this Sunday speaks to us. The parable should first of all reminds us to learn how to count our blessings and to count them. If we happen to think that we have so little that there is nothing to share and give to others, then we are like the ‘one’ with the one talent who buried it. When we bury our talents, do not recognize them, or refuse to share them and to use them in loving God and neighbor, then we might as well not have them – they are buried, and in a way we have already lost that which is most important: thankful, hopeful and joyful hearts which are willing to live compassionately and in God’s ways.
If, on the other hand, we recognize our many gifts, talents, and blessings, but think we earned them and behave in a stingy and selfish manner, and refuse to use them to love God and neigbor, then this Gospel reminds us that God is definitely not happy with us. We are refusing to live the faith that we possess.
If, having counted our blessing, we are thankful and generous in using them, then God is pleased with us for we have heard the Christian Gospel and are following the Lord, and living as he calls us to live.
The Earth is home to 6.5 billion people who live in the cities and villages of 192 nations. To grasp the social shape of the world, imagine shrinking the planet’s population to a “global village” of just 1000 people. In this “village,” more than half (610) or the inhabitants are Asian, of whom 200 are citizens of China. Next, we would find 140 Africans, 110 Europeans, 85 people from Latin American and the Caribbean, 5 from Australia and South Pacific, just 45 Americans and 5 Canadians.
A Close look at the settlement would reveal some startling facts. The village is a rich place, with a spectacular range of goods and services from sale; yet most of the villagers can only dream about such treasures, because they are so poor: 80 percent of the village’s total income in earned by just 200 people. For most, the greatest problem is getting enough food. Every year, villagers, including most of the children, do not get enough to eat, and many must go to sleep hungry every night. The worst-off 200 residents – who together, have less money than the richest person in the village – lack both clean drinking water and safe shelter. Weak and unable to work, their lives are at risk from life-threatening diseases.
The village has many schools, including a fine university. About 50 inhabitants have completed a college degree, but about one-third of the village’s people are not even able to read or write.
Canadians, on average would be among the village’s richest people.Although we may think that our comfortable lives are the result of our own talent and hard work, the sociological perspective reminds us that our achievements also result from our nation’s privileged position in the worldwide social system.