At the weekly gathering of the participants doing the Lent Retreat in Daily Living at St. Hubert, we had a discussion about the difficulties so many people have acknowledging their giftedness.
During last week, one of their days of prayer focused on the parable of the talents in Matthew’s Gospel. The questions I had asked the participants to reflect on included these: “Do I hesitate to recognize my giftedness? Am I willing to own the gifts God has given me? If I am hesitatnt to do so, what is the source of that hesitation?” I also asked the partiicpants to name at least one of the gifts God had given them and share with God how they might better use that gift to further God’s plan of salvation.
After some small group sharing of their prayer experience, when we came together for questions and discussion, sevearl people observed that this was a hard exercise, the most difficult of the prayer for that week. I think their experience is not atypical.
We have had drummed into us that we should not be prideful. We read in Scripture Jesus’ admonition to have humility. And we remember the parable of the Phrarisee and Tax Collector and, in particular, Jesus’ reaction to the pride of the Pharisee. As a result, we are worried, as one person suggested, that acknowledging our gifts is akin to “tooting our own horn.”
Jesus did warn against pride and instructed us to be humble. But he also told his disciples not to hide their light under a bushel.
We have all been gifted by God. But we cannot use those gifts if we don’t acknowledge them. It will be impossible for us to discern how we can best serve God’s plan of salation is we don’t accurately assess and own the gifts we have been given. We were given our gifts to use for the life of the world, not to hide in a closet.
One of the things I told the group is that if they can remember something else that was part of their prayer for that previous week – the first of the Beatitudes – they might find it easier to acknowlege their gifts without worrying about arrogance or pride. That is, if we truly have poverty of spirit – if we recongize our complete and utter dependence on God, then we know that the gifts are not our doing, but God’s.
Of course, we always need to be careful to be sure we are using the gifts we have been given for God’s glory and not our own, but it is important that we not shy away from recognizing those gifts.