While preparing for Easter, during Lent, we must be mindful of cultivating our own gift and talents that we have received from God. We can develop these through sacrifices or outward actions of faith, both can be pleasing to God. Often, we do not take our gifts and talents seriously. Yet, each of us have own set of gifts, unique to us. The Catechism of the Church recognizes that all people have been granted their own singular sets of gifts. Article 1937 teaches; “These differences belong to God's plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular "talents" share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures”
Jesus told us that all talents are not given equally. Not everyone is going to be able to be great athletes, entertainers, or statesmen. However, because some have been granted an excess of talents, they have a big responsibility in the eyes of God. Jesus taught; “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”. (Luke 12:48)
As he often does, Paul echoes this teaching; “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully”. (Romans 12:6-8) Paul sees gifts in much the same way as the Catechism. We are not to envy others for their gifts, but to use our gifts in the most fruitful way.
Jesus also gave a stern teaching in the Parable of the “Three Servants”;
“ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods And, unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abilities and straightway took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise, he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and buried it in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time, the lord of those servants returned, and called them to account.
And so, he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you gave me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, you are a good and faithful servant. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you gave me two talents: behold, I have gained two other His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where you have not strawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, there you still have what is yours.
His lord answered and said unto him, you wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed. You should therefore have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him who has ten talents. For unto every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14-30)
Jesus is not giving financial advice, but saying that all of us, regardless of the level of talents, can make the most of them and offer the fruits of our talents back to God, for His Glory. The late comic-clown Red Skelton, who was deeply religious and immensely talented left a powerful thought on this subject; “Your talents are God’s gift to you, what you do with your talents is your gift back to God”. During Lent, can we ask; how are we preparing our talents to offer back to the Risen Lord?