This morning’s readings call me to a sense of balance in evaluating my worth. Too much self-esteem can lead to boastfulness if left unchecked. Too little leaves me unable to function in a world of expectations of success. As always, “virtue stands in the middle” and the message of the Scriptures today is a reality check for us, a sort of looking in the mirror of who we are and accepting what we’ve been given in order to become our best selves.
Paul starts right off putting his readers in their place (and he knew well where pride can take us!). He says, “Not many of you are wise by human standards, powerful or of noble birth…” He’s not interested any more in “human standards” but rather tells them, “God chose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, the lowly…” (1Cor 1: 26-31) The only boasting should be done in the Lord.
Jesus is interested as well in our ability to consider our calling as we live every day. The gospel (Mt 25: 14-30) tells of a man going on a journey who leaves his servants “talents” according to their abilities. A talent in Scriptural terms is a weight, usually in silver or gold, and two of the three servants increased what they had been given while the master was away. The third buried his out of fear of the master and rather than being rewarded for not losing it he was stripped of everything when the master returned. (The adage “use it or lose it” comes to mind here.)
The lesson is clear. Just because I haven’t won Dancing with the Stars (which in my mind I would love to count as a success) doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be happy with my cha cha. Here’s a realistic example. Each morning when I sit to write these reflections I wonder if I will have anything of value to say. I breathe a sigh of relief when the readings offer up something “easy” to work with but sometimes I find myself trying too hard because what I’m seeing on the page seems bland to me. It helps when someone tells me that my blog has been good for her/him that day. Often now though I just trust that what is supposed to open in me will do so and I breathe in the conviction that God’s Spirit is responsible for this task. I am called to be a co-creator, using my early calling as a language teacher and my long tenure as a seeker toward God to allow what will happen to be of service for the day. I remember Paul’s dictum: “Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord” and just say “thank you!” – rather than either refusing recognition of the worth of my stewardship or taking all the credit.
We have all been given talents for the building up of the kingdom of God. How balanced is your view of where your talents lie?
PS: One of my insecurities is that if I miss a day blogging, you may never return to reading. I’m getting over that, however, confident at last that you probably can live without me! I’m on a holiday with my siblings until Tuesday so the schedule and “alone time” are rather topsy-turvy. This time is a rare gift for me, as is the blog, so perhaps I will be in touch tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday but perhaps not. In any case, I am content in knowing that my worth is not dependent on my product but rather on my intention to be my best self each and every day. May God give you the grace to know the same!