HOMILY: Recognizing That We Are Both Gift & Gifted

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time | November 15/16, 2014

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading, with references to themes in the second reading.

Over the course of my ministerial career, I have had the chance to work in some pretty impressive institutions, but Georgetown Visitation may take the cake.

Founded over 200 years ago, this school provides young women with an incredible education, providing them with opportunities that I never even dreamed of when I was in school.

These young ladies present at national conferences, travel across Europe performing, give up their spring break to minister to Native American children on reservations in South Dakota, all while gaining admittance to some of the finest universities in the country.

Needless to say, the students at Georgetown Visitation are gifted.

Which is why I will never forget the 1st retreat that I attended with them.

It was a Junior Retreat and my first time facilitating a small group discussion.  I scanned over the provided questions and selected one that seemed rather straight forward.

What gifts do you possess?

The group fell totally silent.  Hesitantly, one student mentioned that she has a decent voice.  Another said that she was pretty good at basketball.  Many of the students said nothing at all.

I was utterly baffled.  I had known these women just a few weeks, but I could have gone on for hours about the gifts that each of them possessed.  Why could they not see what was so obvious to me?

Desperate to save my failing small group, I turned the tables on them.  I pointed to the girl sitting to my left and said . . . “What gifts does she have?”

It was as if I unleashed a floodgate.

She is an amazing artist.

She is a persuasive speaker.

She is brilliant in science.

She is always smiling and it just brightens my day.

She has the kindest heart.

She really cares about what I have to say.

Needless to say that session did not end on time.

Yet, I must admit, I could not help but think of those students as I read the Gospel for this weekend.

For far too many of those young women reminded me of the servant who buried his talent.

See we hear this parable and we quickly find fault with the servant who buried his talent.

How could he be so foolish?

Why did he squander what had been given to him?

But I am convinced that many of us do just that each and every day.

It is not that we choose not to use our talents.

We just bury them in a litany of false humility, ceaseless comparisons, and self-doubt that lead us to believe that we do not actually possess these gifts at all.

We question.

We question ourselves as parents and spouses.

We question the work that we do, the difference that we make.

We question our very character.

We dwell on our failures, our mistakes.

We dwell on all those who appear to have it all.  Who seem to be better than we are.   We ask ourselves why we can’t be them.

And somewhere along the way, we confuse being gifted with being perfect.

But my friends, we do not need to stay in this place of darkness.

For we are children of the light.

Children of a God who calls us by name.

Who claims us as His own.

And who empowers us with the gifts of the Spirit

To be wise and understanding.

Compassionate and forgiving.

Innovative and steadfast.

Courageous and prayerful

Trustworthy and joy-filled

To sing and build, heal and play, teach and serve, dance and speak to the best of our ability.

To give glory to the master craftsman whose handiwork we are.

We may not be perfect my friends, but we are both gift and gifted.

Let us live in this freedom, as the children of God.

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