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Fear and the Talents
August 27th Readings Reflection: Memorial of Saint Monica
In today’s Gospel, we hear the parable of the talents. Something in it that especially caught my attention is the explanation that the third servant gives for burying his talent. He knew that his master was “a demanding person… so out of fear,” he buried it. Fear. The master’s response at first seems very harsh: “You wicked lazy servant!” he said, before finally having the servant thrown outside “into the darkness… where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
As human beings, we all can relate to this servant on some level. Fear is everywhere in our lives today: fear of rejection, fear of danger, fear of failure, etc. So many times throughout our lives, we may wish to imitate this servant and hide our God-given talents, rather than give them to others and risk being rejected — or worse, betrayed, hurt, or broken.
The greatest talent that God gives us is love, or charity. Supernatural love resides within our souls when we are in the state of grace. This love, however, is not meant to be buried within ourselves; we are called to love our neighbours as ourselves, seeing God in each of them. To give this love away is not easy in a fallen world, as everyone knows. We are called to show Christian love — agape — toward every single person, but to do so risks facing rejection, abandonment, betrayal, and other sufferings.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Monica. She was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, a great bishop and Doctor of the Church from the fourth century. St. Monica’s husband was a pagan and had a violent temper. As a young man, St. Augustine lived such a wayward life of sin and false religious beliefs that Monica was forced to drive him from her house at one point. However, she never ceased to pray for his conversion, as well as that of her pagan husband and mother-in-law. Her prayers and persistence payed off. Before her husband and his mother died, they both converted to Catholicism; Augustine finally came to accept the truth of the Catholic Faith and went on to make many great contributions to Catholic philosophy and theology.
St. Monica never once buried her talents from God, even though it cost her dearly. She steadfastly clung to her Faith despite her family not sharing her beliefs, enduring great trials, even to the point of separation from her son for a time. Despite all of this, never once did she stop praying or compromise her beliefs to avoid difficulty or rejection. May St. Monica intercede for us today and always, that we may have the strength and courage to never hide the talents and gifts that God has given us, but rather to always love others with a true Christian charity, no matter what it may cost us.
St. Monica, ora pro nobis!