Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
What are your talents? What gifts has God given you to share with others? In today’s Gospel we hear about the three servants who were given talents by their master to use wisely. “To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--to each according to his ability.” What did they do with the talents? Two of the servants used them wisely and doubled the talents. One of them buried his talent in the ground and did not produce anything.
One way to apply this parable to our lives is to recognize that God has given us spiritual gifts to share with others. The Church calls these gifts charisms. When we are aware of our charisms, and we allow God to bless others through exercising these charisms in our lives, we will see fruit. This is called spiritual multiplication. I bless you…you have a life-changing encounter with Christ and are empowered by the Holy Spirit…you go out and bless others.
Charisms are gifts given for the common good; or for the service of others. They are given primarily for the building up of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly emphasizes this point:
“Charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the ends of the world” (CCC 799)
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHARISMS AND TALENTS
Paul gives a list of charisms in 1 Corinthians 12:28:
“Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.”
Not every baptized person will be given the supernatural grace to exercise every charism. Paul intentionally chooses the words “some people.” Charisms are given to particular individuals or groups of individuals for particular reasons. All the charisms work together within a Christian community to build up the body of Christ. For example, in a parish, there ought to be a pastor who acts as the shepherd carrying out the role of the apostles. There ought to be some people with the gift of prophecy seeking the Lord’s word and consulting with the pastor and key leaders to develop a vision for the parish community. There ought to be a team of leaders willing to motivate and lead the community to carry out that common vision. There ought to be one or more people with the gift of administration overseeing the administrative details of the parish. There ought to be gifted teachers to pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the Church. There ought to be people with the charism of assistance who are willing to serve in ministries such as hospitality. All of these people are necessary to live out a common vision in a parish community.
It is essential, however, that the people who have been given particular charisms recognize these charisms and seek areas in which they can use them. It can be tempting for us to want to volunteer in areas in which we are neither naturally gifted nor gifted with a related charism. For example, it may be tempting for someone with the gift of prophecy or assistance to want to volunteer for an administrative position simply because the position needs to be filled. It is better to keep the position vacant until someone is identified as having the charism of administration. It is the Holy Spirit who chooses which people ought to receive certain charisms. As a community of faith, it is necessary to trust that the Holy Spirit will provide the right people for each area of need. It is important to recognize that there is a difference between a person with natural talent and a person who has been given a particular charism. Natural talents are the result of natural birth. Charisms, on the other hand, are free and sovereign acts of God linked to baptism. Although an individual with the natural gift of administration could effectively do the job of a parish administrator, it is not the same as an individual with the charism of administration doing the same job. There is a supernatural grace that is attached to a charism. It is the Holy Spirit working in and through the administrator. With this supernatural grace comes the power of the Holy Spirit. When all the people within a parish community come together as a team with each of their respective charisms, the Holy Spirit guides them toward the common vision that the Holy Spirit himself gave the team.
It is my prayer that as we continue to individually discern our charisms and allow the Holy Spirit to use us to build up the Church, we will begin to see our parish vision become a reality; we will become a “Holy Spirit-filled beacon of God’s love guiding all into a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ”.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Jim Lowe, CC