Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gifts and talents
Points to note
Today’s reading is a very simple story that children can relate to at their level. I have not translated the value of talent in this reading to modern equivalents in order to preserve the word talent, which we will use in the discussions. But, if you really want to know: a talent is worth about 20 years wages of a labourer, say about $200,000 or so.
The key is to encourage the children to share their talents and abilities. If you know all the children to be confident, it is acceptable to take turns to share their talents but such a format tends to eb difficult for those who may be a little hesitant, as it put them under pressure.
Be sensitive to children who have never been encouraged to proclaim their talents or were suppressed in their expressions of self. Sometimes, you do get a child who has not been conditioned to believe they have a talent or are talented. Do not pry or insist that they have talents but encourage them with examples of simple gifts that children normally have or, suggest one if you know a talent they personally have. Do not ask other children to point out talents of that hesitant child as it could back-fire if no one can come up with any.
In truth the money referred to in the reading is not the gifts and talents that God gives us, but I will leave you reflect on the reading – you will have to read the passage carefully. That’s the beauty of scriptural readings – they yield water at whichever level you dig.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty. Alleluia!
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All: Glory to you O Lord
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”
‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”
‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
This is the Good News of the Lord
Get the children to share their talents. You could also get them to point out talents of their friends they know in the group – it is good to get them to affirm each other.
Discuss how they can use their talents to help God and the Church. There are always the ministries in the Church and at mass. Discuss how they can contribute to each of these ministries. If you are laden with ulterior motives, this would be a good time to get volunteer helpers for your church’s Christmas preparations.
Expand their talents to beyond the Church, to how they can bring Christ’s message to the rest of the world.