If I am honest, I relate the most to the final servant in today’s Gospel. When I receive something good or special, I worry over it: What is the ideal way to use and treat it? Will I waste it? How will others interact with it?
While this tendency is applied in many areas of my life, a fantastic gluten free treat is a frequent victim. I feel like I have to wait for the perfect time to savor it, and therefore it goes bad after being shuffled to the back of the cupboard. My lack of engagement with it and my unwillingness to release perfection is its ultimate downfall.
This reading invites me to pause and ask myself how this posture affects my relationships with my strengths. I have done a lot of interior work to know my strengths and to appreciate my uniqueness. I believe in a strength-based life: one that invests energy into the things I am good at rather than working hard to “fix” weaknesses.
Yet I am also hesitant to share and prone to perfectionism. I hold back from offering my ideas and skills to groups and communities for fear that someone else in the room is even better than me or my offerings will not be good enough. I have to wonder, am I shuffling my own strengths to the back of the cupboard? What do I bury, pretending it's for protection, but really it is out of fear?
I believe that God is ultimately more merciful than the master in today’s Gospel. I imagine God being more disappointed than angry when I hide the gifts s/he has given me. I also imagine the delight on his/her face when I do speak up - when I do offer the uniqueness with which I am designed for the service of others. In times of hesitation I try to imagine God’s “whoop” of joy, the cheerleading cry of an excited parent. This helps me to step out of my comfort zone and fear and into embodying a strengths based life.
There’s also something to be said about living as joyfully as we can on this side of Heaven. This is a complex and dynamic call. Today’s reading reminds me to offer my gifts, cheer on others as they do the same, and eat that gluten free treat before it literally crumbles to dust.