Learning from Tom Brady About the Use of our Talents
Imagine, Tom Brady. 43 years old and still playing for the Super Bowl. He’s the oldest player in the NFL outside of a kicker, and at 43 years old, he’s still one of the best quarterbacks trying to win an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl!!! In the sports world, this is simply unbelievable.
Every professional athlete, whether in the NFL or NBA or any other sport, has incredible talent. Yet, there are many other athletes that may have just as much or even more talent than someone like Brady, yet they never make it into the professional leagues. Why? What does it take to become a professional athlete? Surely at that level you need God-given talent as well as certain opportunities! Yet what makes the athlete a professional is precisely what they do with their talent. How do they develop their talent? How do they fulfill the potential they were given?
Many of us, especially here in New England, know the story of Tom Brady and how he was chosen the 199th person in the 2000 draft. Imagine being picked in the 6th round, with teams choosing six other quarterbacks before New England drafted Brady! All the teams in the NFL thought that other quarterbacks had more talent and would become better quarterbacks, yet 20 years later Brady’s still playing in the NFL as one of the most feared quarterbacks who is trying to win his 7th Super Bowl!
I highlight Brady today not simply because he’s playing in the Super Bowl tonight, but because he offers an extremely relevant example which sheds light on Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel story. God gave Brady certain talent. He is not the most talented athlete ever in the NFL but he will go down as the greatest quarterback of all time. Why? Because he took the talent God gave him, he took the opportunities that God offered him, and made the most of them from an athletic perspective.
In a much broader sense, this is what God wants to see in each of us. God gives everyone in our own lives special talents, gifts, and opportunities. We don’t need to compare ourselves to anyone else because each of us have our own unique life. God has given us our particular family, our upbringing, our opportunities, our education and intellect, our charismatic spirit, our seeds of faith, our second chances, and our entire beautiful life.
The fundamental questions, however, that the Gospel raises for us today is “What are we doing with all that God has given us? How are we using these gifts and opportunities to fulfill our God-given potential? Or are we lazily squandering all that God has given us?”
Reflect on the Gospel we heard today. Jesus tells a story about a king who entrusted to his three servants a responsibility. To each one he entrusted his property, giving a different amount of talents. In antiquity, talents equated to a weight of money. To the first servant he gave five talents, to another three, and to the third one talent, each according to their ability. Then, the king leaves his servants for a period of time, waiting to see what they will do with their talents. Eventually he returns and asks each servant to give an accounting of their balance. What did they do with the talents they received? How did they increase them? Did they fulfill the potential their Master saw in them? And to those who used their gift wisely, even more would be given to them.
The first servant responded that he received five talents and increased his talents by five. The second received two and increased his talents by two. One servant, however, lazily did nothing with the talent he received. He returned it back to his Master just as he received it, yet with plenty of excuses accusing the Master that it was his fault he did nothing. He could have complained that he only had one talent compared to the five the other servant got. In the end, he did nothing with what the Master gave him!
Think about this! Can we reflect on this story and use it to evaluate our own lives? God has blessed each one of us in our own different ways. Remember, God does not give every person the same gifts as someone else, nor does he expect the same results. God gives to each one of us our own unique ability, potential, and opportunity. He then expects us to fulfill our own potential, not someone else’s, and to use the gifts He has given us in a way that will glorify His Name. Keep this in mind. God does not compare us to someone else and see whether we have done as much as they have done. One day, we will stand before God and He will simply reveal to us our lives and show us what we have done with what He gave us!
Thus, here lies the question with which we need to wrestle. As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that our life, and all that we have, is NOT our own but a loan entrusted to us by God. He has given us the gift of life, along with every blessing that we possess. He has given us our health, our faith, our families, our intelligence, our physical abilities, as well as each experience in life. These are the “talents” He has entrusted to us. One day, however, he will call us to account and ask, “What have you done with what I have given you? How have you used my blessings wisely? Have you used them mainly for your own benefit or for the sake of others? How have you lived out the great commandment, the divine calling of loving God and loving our neighbor with all that I have given you?
We must constantly remember that we are but stewards of all we have, not the owners of our gifts and talents. A steward lives for their Master and strives to please the Master. An owner thinks all they have is their own to use however they want. How we perceive our relationship to God and the talent and blessings He’s given us will guide us in what we do with all we have.
In the end, when we encounter Christ, we will have an opportunity to share our story and to show how we have used God’s gifts and blessings for the glory of His Name. For the servant who has acted as a faithful and good steward with all they have, our Lord will welcome them to “enter into the joy of your Master.” God has given us divine potential and wants only what is good for us. He longs for us to enter into His joy and happiness. Yet this happens only when we understand life from His perspective and properly relate to our potential and all our blessings.
God has entrusted to each of us unique blessings. He reminds us that we are but stewards. He waits to see what we will do with our blessings, how we will increase them, and how we will glorify His name through our lives.
So tonight, as you watch the Super Bowl and marvel at 43 year old Tom Brady, think about him as the 199th person drafted in the 6th round. He is not the most talented quarterback in the history of the NFL, but he is one who has lived up to his God-given potential as an athlete. And his athletic accomplishments and example can guide us to reflect on our own divine potential and blessings and inspire us to act as good and faithful stewards with all that God has given us, increasing our talents and fulfilling our potential all for the glory of God’s Name.
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