In the gospel reading we are given a valuable guideline for better living. The story of the talents is a tale of warning to those who would miss the opportunity of living a fulfilled life.
What is fulfilment? One of the easiest ways of answering this is to say what it is not!
Fulfilment is not to be confused with business. For many of us life seems too busy. It is not just a dynamic of living in a world city, we are so keen to get somewhere that we miss the opportunities of meeting people along the way, have taking in the scenery as we speed dangerously towards our destination.
Often our business is an attempt to hide our insecurity, a failing relationship is never acknowledged because we keep busy so never spending any quality time with our partner. We drift apart until one day we suddenly realize it is stranger who is lying beside us.
Fulfilment is not to be confused with material possessions. As a nation we have become more prosperous, we have a higher standard of living than many, not just in the world but in comparison with our parents generation, albeit that we are now living with consequences of living beyond our means.
We spend more and more time shopping, but are we really fulfilled in this pursuit. There will always be another handbag, another pair of shoes. There will always be a newer model of car on the market, a faster and brighter computer.
Being fulfilled is not to be confused with success either. A brief look at the lives of the rich and famous the successful celebrity shows that success has not necessarily brought happiness or fulfilment to their life. The search for fame and success can result in the terrible disfigurement of the human spirit and body.
So what is fulfilment then?
It is the process of allowing God to take a lead in our lives; it is our spiritual journey to wards God with its unlimited possibilities. It is not the finishing line that is important it is the race that leads to that line.
Fulfilment can best be described as a feeling of well-being and joy that comes from a realization that we are living creative people, whether that is defined by our job or a hobby or from acknowledging that we are, each one of us made in God’s image. This sense of well-being that is real fulfilment is found when we are fully engaged in developing our potential as his children made in God's image.
What we learn from the parable of the talents is that we are best fulfilled when we are living to the best of our ability; when we are doing the best we can with who we are and what we have.
This past week saw the nation remember the fallen of 100 years of war. The questions is what do we remember and how does that memory inform us and change us?
If what we remember is our talent, our capacity to wage war more effectively than others then this memory serves to encourage us to remain ahead – be it in the arms race or the race to be on the winning side of every conflict.
If on the other hand what we remember is the terrible loss of life, the tragic cost of war, the burial of hope in the grave of every fallen solider and civilian caught up in the reality of war then our desire to use force to solve the problems of the world will be diminished and the we can develop our talents in different ways to resolve conflicts.
The gospel challenges us live fulfilled lives. It encourages us to be actively engaged in developing our spiritual and material life. And it is both, after all what is the use of me being such a spiritual person that I am of no early use to my family or friends? It shows that to accept mere survival or second best or when we fail to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us we will be consequences.