Daily Reflection
August 27th, 2005

Roc O'Connor, S.J.

Campus Ministry and the Theology Department
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Memorial of St. Monica
1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
Psalm 98:1, 7-8, 9
Matthew 25:14-30

This is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, who shadowed him with prayer and presence, seeking his conversion. Today, I just want to acknowledge how complicated mother-son relationships are from each side. Let us pray for mothers and sons today. And that’s about all I’ll say about St. Monica for now.

The gospel passage is certainly familiar to many of us. But, the following two lines caught my eye like they never have before:

“To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability.”

“Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.”

The third person who received only one talent is the only one who speaks of the Master in the language of “demanding, fear, burying, and returning one for one what he was given.”

Notice that the other two never speak about their negative reactions to their master. Rather, a generous, non self-focused response to the gift of the talents evokes a generous, non self-focused additional blessing from the master. The two that focus on the gift seem free to accept and honor what they have received.

Here’s what I wonder about - the role of dealing with whatever gifts or talents a person has been given. Perhaps the person with the one talent resented knowing the limitations he/she had to go through life with. Maybe this person envied the others. Whatever the case, fear of the master drove this one to bury the talent.

Now, I’m not really making an ad for positive thinking seminars. I’m Irish, for goodness’ sake! But, it’s an interesting little revelation about the possible connections between self-acceptance, self-estimation, and fear of the master.

I wonder if it has to do with the way some of us already look at God. I wonder what this might look like lived out in one’s prayer life and life of service to others.

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