In the Gospel account this week we hear The Parable of the Talents… it tells of the servants who are given various allocations of talents, a unit of currency at the time of Jesus, and challenged to “make the most of them”. Two of them went on to double their return whilst the final one simply buried his in the ground and handed it back. The first two were rewarded for their response whilst the final way who simply hid his away was chastised for wasting it.
What does this tell us?
- At times we can be jealous of people who seem to have so much more than us… more money, a bigger house, a nicer car or maybe greater looks, popularity or prowess as a sportsperson or academic genius. It can feel like it’s easy for them or unfair in some way.
- We are challenged in this parable to remember that God gives us all gifts and talents in special ways. The idea is not for us to store them up for the next series of BGT or X factor but to look to use them every day to do good, to do God’s work in some way.
- We are called to make the most of what we’ve been blessed with and ultimately in education to help unearth the talents of all those around us. This is simply the most inspiring part of what we can do in school.
So in the week ahead let your talent shine and take the joy of helping build up others rather than comparing ourselves to one another. Maybe the challenge in education is to uncover each person’s gifts and talents and give them the confidence to shine out. If we can do this we can start to discover why God gave us the gifts we have and the real impact, with His blessing we can have.
I hope you have a really good week ahead.
This week our theme is about reconciliation and is based in the beautiful account of the parable of the Prodigal or Lost Son. What can we take from this during this season of Lent?
The parable has a real resonance as an account rich in its humanity… all of us at times can be lost in our lives, whether for a short moment or a whole chapter of life. We can find ourselves at a distance from those we love most, our faith or from God in some way. The story narrates to us the very normal and human tendency to be tempted to make decisions based on our love of a very short term pleasure or hedonistic motivation.
What would these be for you?
- A temptation to want more in our lives?
- The lure of money or possessions?
- The temptation to try and do things to be popular rather than do what’s right?
- The attraction of power and status?
All of us could, to a greater our lesser extent, see how we have been drawn, like moths to the lights, by one or more of these things. We have an opportunity to make a change or choice to do the right thing and the parable of the Prodigal Son challenges us to do just this.
How can we do this?
- We can look to heal broken relationships one small step at a time. Sometimes making the first move is all it will take (even if we think we were in the right!)
- We can aim to “live simply” in some way – could we give some of our possessions, great or small to others?
- We can look to stick to what is right, however challenging or unpopular this may be. This may be simply being true to your faith or core beliefs when being challenged.
- We can empower others and take a deep rooted joy in being them take the lead or credit for something we have been a part of.
Even in writing these suggestions I find a smile on my face and can feel how worthwhile some of these small steps may be. As we hear in the parable even if we are at life’s lowest ebb if we stop to think and listen we can hear God’s call for us. God, like the father, will be longing and waiting for us to set off on that journey. The journey back to his loving arms… May be time to get packing!
In the Gospel reading this week we hear about the Parable of the Fig Tree. In this account we hear about a landowner who went to inspect his land and found a Fig Tree that had failed to produce any fruit for three years… it wasn’t an exciting or attractive tree so without any fruit what was the point of having it in the vineyard taking up valuable space and land?
It must to have been tempting for the gardner to “call it a day” and give up on the challenge of looking after the tree with no noticeable success and the pressure of the landowner challenging for some tangible results.
Instead of accepting that it would never get any better, and cutting the tree down, the gardner instead pleaded for another opportunity saying “just give me one more year”. You get the sneaking suspicion that this is symbolic of never giving up hope. I believe that this is an attitude and approach that lies at the heart of education and working with young people.
I get an immense satisfaction in overcoming adversity or challenge especially if I have been told it is impossible. When someone says “that will never work” or “that student is unteachable” it ignites a spark in my eye that says we can achieve this together at St Paul’s. It enables us to look to act with compassion, commitment and care even in the most hopeless situations. We too have to be “dealers of hope” and hear the call to say “just give me one more year”…
So what can we do to live this out?
- Look for opportunities to feed and nurture growth and success even in times that seem hopeless.
- Live out the challenge from Pope Francis to be an oasis of mercy in the communities we are part of.
- Recognise that God offers love and forgiveness to us even when we fail to fulfil our potential.
We are called to be relentless in our quest to find opportunities to uncover the potential of those around us just as God never gives up on us and the potential we have.