For a full copy of the Newsletter for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time please click on the link; Ordinary Time 5th Week 040218
Don’t be Shy!
These days you don’t have to look very far to discover inspirational words. The internet is a great source for famous people and their famous statements. Some of them are clever, some are even memorable and occasionally you come across some that are profound. During the week I was reading an article about Nelson Mandela and his inauguration. The year was 1994 and South Africa had taken a huge risk. After 27 years in prison, was the newly elected, post-apartheid, president going to be partisan, tribal and vindictive? All South Africa and the world watched on!
Then, in the midst of the colour, movement and noise Nelson Mandela stepped to the microphone and amazed everyone not by being triumphal but by talking about humility.
He suggested that false humility hurts us just as much as false pride. Mandela said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone, and, as we let our light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Nelson Mandela is basically saying that if God has given you gifts and talents they are given to be used. So often we get confused and think that humility is all about non-assertiveness and first waiting to be asked before we step forward to offer our gifts.
But Mandela rightly identified that our God-given gifts and talents are meant to help others, just as their gifts are meant to help us. This is the very message of this weekend’s Gospel when we hear that we are “salt of the earth” and “light to the world”. To hide our light under a bushel basket serves no one – it does not serve others, it does not serve our God, and it certainly does not serve ourselves.
When God gives us a gift, God expects a certain return. To hide our talents, as the parable makes clear, is perilous to self and not very pleasing to the One who gave those gifts.
Sure, no doubt there are times when we struggle with the reality that each of us is a child of God, fabulous, unique, and talented. Nelson Mandela is right, there is nothing enlightened, or God-serving, in false humility. Moreover, as Jesus’ parable of the talents suggests, hiding one’s talents doesn’t exactly produce happiness either.
So this week, let’s not be shy with the gifts that God has given us.
Fr Peter Brannelly