This line, coming towards the end of this weekend’s Gospel passage, gives us a sense of the thought process at work in the man who buried his talents rather than take a risk. Others had spoken less than favourably of his ways and style and that was enough to frighten the “talented” man into in-action. Rather than take a risk he buried deep his talent so that it could be handed back intact when the demand was made.
I remember a man who used to buy cars from my father. The day he’d get the car he removed the hubcaps, carpets etc and stored them in the house. When time came to trade in the car he put them back. They were in pristine condition and a great advantage to the one buying the car second hand but, even at a young age, I thought there was something sad about him depriving himself the bit of “softness” the carpet would supply and the bit of chrome the hubcaps would add. Why did he do this? I suppose he felt they’d get soiled or damaged and it was easier to remove them than take that risk. Possibly he felt too that the car might be worth a bit more on trade-in if these items were “as new” – all sound thinking, you could say, but I still think there was a price to be paid and that the car wasn’t all that it could have been with these items removed.
Those little bits of comfort that we might be given or have in life are meant to make life a bit better for us. It’s hard to see how this can happen if we remove or hide them for the duration of our ownership. Far from being selfish, it seems right that we would make full use of gifts and talents given.
The opinion of others is important of course but so too our own assessment. We might be better coming to know the Lord personally than to go relying on others to form our opinion. It might have been different for the “talented” man had that been the case. He might have made more use of what he had been given. I sometimes think the Lord is happy to see us using our gifts even – maybe especially – if they get a little damaged in the process!
Hubcaps on wheels, carpets on floors …. Now!!