We can work hard and end up “poor”… unless we use our talents to strengthen family
In this day and age, today’s 1st Reading is not ‘politically’ correct, because it presents the wife as a servant, or a resource for personal gain of the man. However, rather than a long discussion about the reality of the times when the Book of Wisdom was written, let’s focus more on the deeper implications for each one of us, whatever relationship we are in.
After reflecting on all three readings, it’s clear the first reading is not about marriage, exactly. The image of wife and husband is an analogy to reflect our relationships with God. And, basically, that means our personal relationships with one another (love God=love neighbour). I was looking for the weekly joke and saw this cartoon. Let me use it to reflect the readings.
When we hear about the talents, and begin to fear that what we have may be lost, many people wonder what sort of a God is this: giving more to those who have and taking from those who have not? It sounds like the capitalist financial system: the rich grow richer – and fewer – while the poor become poorer – and more numerous!
Basically, we are being reminded, that if we are lazy and expect others to work for us, while we do nothing, then, we will lose everything. I’m sure most people get that, and try to live it. So how does it affect those who have used their talents well and succeeded – at least materially?
There’s a temptation, once we’ve worked hard, to slow down and become lazy. Sadly, in some marriages, the energy/ sweetness of courtship days disappears after the wedding ceremony.
You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. If it doesn’t drink, it will suffer and die. (Please, I’m not referring to any old nags! Usually men are slow to change.)
This picture shows vividly how some relationships crash. Sadly, this can happen slowly and not by intention when we prioritise issues outside marriage (eg. work), as more important than our spouse or seeing our kids: we think, they will appreciate me later when I make a lot of money and buy them what they like. Or, we use our talents to bring home the salary, but forget that we need to continue, at home, to use other talents to strengthen our family and friends.
This is also true in ‘simple’ friendships: do we take each other for granted; do we only call to ask for help; do we only visit if we hear you got a big tea bonus or you’ve won the lottery!?
We will discover, after some, that we lose our friends just when we need help: that will result in some suffering and, perhaps, loss of valuables: even what he has will be taken from him and given to the man who has much.
I’m always comforted by the praise that Jesus gave to the widow who gave the smallest coin as an offering. She gave what she had. That’s all God expects of us: and true friends/spouses understand what we can and can’t do. To help us stay honest, our friends and family sometimes get frustrated and yell at us and tell us to stop being lazy. I’m sure God uses those moments to push us to develop our talents more: as some wise spiritual writer said:
“God loves us just the way we are, but God is not content to leave us where we are.” The intention is to remind us that we are “a work in progress”. If a 50 year old person behaves like a 20 year old, society will punish him!
At every stage of our lives we must keep discovering, developing and exercising new talents, otherwise we may fall victim to the words of Jesus:
“…but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
However, if we work to our best, God will always bless us with some sort of success, and when we cannot achieve by ourselves, our struggle is rewarded by help from others.
Promotions come after years of experience and sacrifice in helping others. It’s very rare to be promoted before hard work: do the hard work and the future will bless you and others.
When we care for and serve people, material requirements will follow OK. Try not to worry about past relationship failures: Let’s reflect about our present relationships and how we can use our talents to nourish them with our time and small acts of kindness.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI