A U.S. Senator is reported to have asked Mother Teresa if she ever became discouraged when she sees the greatness of the world’s poverty and the little she and the Sisters are really able to do. Mother Teresa replied: "God does not call me to be successful. God calls me to be faithful." Faithfulness to God’s call was the measuring rod Mother Teresa wisely used when evaluating her and her Sisters’ effectiveness in the world – not numbers served or quotas met.
Faithfulness is not necessarily a virtue prized by our success, consumption driven society. From early on society’s message to us is to use our talents to advance ourselves: to achieve, to acquire, to amass, to possess…whether the goal is wealth, or success or fame or knowledge. Very rarely, if ever, are we told to use our talents to be faithful and committed to our life’s calling, whether that is being a good mom or dad, a holy priest or an honest politician, a compassionate boss or a diligent employee.
In today’s gospel Jesus calls all of us to use the talents God has given us in faithfulness to our life’s calling. We are told not to hide our lamp under a bushel basket or a lamp stand, but to let it shine for all to see. But here is the twist! We are not called to use our talents to advance ourselves, our needs, our wants, our desires. But rather we are called to use our talents in faithfulness to the values of the Kingdom proclaimed by the Christ.
For most of us that means putting aside our ego and its demands in order to demonstrate fidelity with regard to the day to day "little things" in life: the love we show to our husband or wife, to our parents or children. The care we take in living out our vocations amidst the "daily grind." The respect we show each other as human persons valued by God. And the concern we demonstrate for those who live on the margins of society. That is the type of measure by which we will be measured; the message that anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.
Let us pray that as we move throughout our day today we may truly enlighten the world with our talents, not advancing ourselves, but rather the Crucified One whom we so faithfully serve.
Patrick Quinn is the director of planned giving at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.