The Parable of the Talents presents a stark reminder of the expectations Christ places upon us to utilize our gifts for the greater good. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read of a master who gives a varying number of talents to his servants based upon what he perceives their abilities to be. The two servants to whom more talents are given each double their talents by the time of the master’s return, but the servant given only one talent buries it for fear of losing what little he has.

The punishment subsequently dished out to the servant who buries his one talent may seem harsh, but Christ illustrates such difficult lessons because he wants to show a clear path to his followers so we don’t waiver in moments of doubt. It was doubt that caused the servant to bury his one talent – doubt he might invest it badly and wind up with nothing. Christ intends us to see this situation as analogous to our own spiritual lives and how we use the gifts God has bestowed upon us.

The Christopher News Note “Discover Your Mission in Life” recounts the story of Doctor Tom Catena, who grew up in upstate New York and has spent the past decade in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains as the only permanent doctor serving a population of nearly half a million people amidst a violent civil war.

“I’ve been given benefits from the day I was born,” Dr. Catena says, “a loving family, a great education. So I see it as an obligation, as a Christian and as a human being, to help…. The need in Nuba is great and Jesus gave us some very simple instructions: ‘take care of these least of My brothers and sisters’ and ‘sell all you have, give it to the poor and come follow Me.’ Perhaps I take things too literally, but these are words for me to live by.”

Dr. Catena’s decision to serve people desperately in need of medical care exemplifies the mindset Christ wants us to have in regard to our talents. We must cast aside the doubts that might prevent us from making bold choices to do what is right. That’s exactly what Dr. Catena did. Rather than worrying about all he might be giving up, he ventured to a remote and destitute place to follow his calling.

It’s a clear sign that a calling has emerged in our lives when we see a purpose to utilize our gift in service to those in need. Such callings can happen in large and small ways at various points in our lives. They can result in monumental career decisions, but also in smaller missions we choose to undertake to help family, friends, or those in need in our community. And the most important gifts we have aren’t always those most exalted by society. Sometimes just being an able-bodied person gives us the chance to pitch in and provide necessary assistance to ease the burdens of those who are suffering.

When we do these things, when we devote all our abilities to making the world a better place, we find ourselves in the company of the favored servants of God. So set out each day to use your talents to accomplish some good, and God will shower blessings upon you, entrusting important causes to your care, and you will see the Holy Spirit work through you to bring about miracles of grace in the lives of all who inhabit the world around you.

For free copies of the Christopher News Note DISCOVER YOUR MISSION IN LIFE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:

Father Ed Dougherty, M.M., is a member of the board of trustees for The Christophers.