Nov. 16, 2016

JIM AND HIS LITTLE TALENT

“Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter…” (Lk.19:17).

Jim was a very simple parishioner who volunteered to clean the priests’ rectory on daily basis. For the past three years I have lived in the rectory, Jim’s devotion was infectious. He was already cleaning the rectory before I came to Glen Burnie, and he did it till the last day. He did his work very silently, and often shy of thanks. Each time someone got close to say “Thank you”, Jim would look for the nearest exit. He never stopped until he became really tired. He called the priest on the last day and said to him, “Father, I am beginning to lose my balance. I guess I have to stop this work”. The priest conversed with Jim and wished him well. All the priests knew they were going to miss Jim’s presence. Barely two weeks after that, a call came requesting anointing for Jim. It was clear that Jim was going down in health. The priests visited him a couple times in the past weeks. As it happened, Jim was already in the hospice the last time the priest visited, unaware of the visit. Call came in just yesterday, November 15th, that this noble man had passed on. It happened fast.

Since the past three months that Jim stopped attending to the priests’ rectory, the courtyard and surroundings had become quite unkempt. Initially, such work was taken for granted as the entire place glittered. It was the silent contribution of one man, Jim. But now, any one coming into the rectory would wonder whether those who live in the place were traveled abroad for some time. “Thanks, Jim, your good works will accompany you”. He did this without pay, with no gratification. He understood that little things could count. He put his talent to a very great use which seemed insignificant to the eyes. It was indeed awesome, and for that reason, someone like Jim deserves being celebrated. He is to be buried on Monday, November 21st, at the Holy Trinity Church, in Glen Burnie. I saw in Jim a saint, very quiet and heaven-minded.

Jim’s life tallied with the parable of the talents in the gospel today. The man who received ten talents invested them, and yielded ten more. The man who received five invested them and had more. The one who received one couldn’t do anything with his talent. He hid it and only kept it for the master's return. He was negative minded and unproductive. His reward was to have nothing at all in the end. The master said, “I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Lk.19:26). Jim recognized the need to invest his talent wisely. He was interested in the quality of his talent, not the quantity. Having retired, he had to use his time to do a quiet but important work of keeping the surroundings of the priests’ residence clean. Perhaps he wasn’t a good singer. He mightn’t have been an usher in the church. He mightn’t have been a Eucharistic Minister, lector or did other visible/popular ministry. Yet he did an awesome service to God and to the church. And he didn’t need to be any other. He wasn’t interested in what he wasn’t either. But all the priests and those who came around the rectory knew the enormity of work which Jim did. Sometimes under the rain, some other times under the sun, or even in the cold, he minded his business of weeding, sweeping, raking and carting away the dirt. Jim focused on what he liked doing, and did it well. He contributed to the goodness of the church by supporting the priests. What an investment!

I’m sure the Lord, the Master will be glad with this noble man for wisely investing his talents, and using them to produce more. He didn’t stack his talents away. He utilized his chances. He contributed greatly to the community. He helped to make God’s house comfortable as well God’s ministers. It is time for the Lord to say to you, “Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter. You take charge of more.” (Lk.19:17).

May the angels welcome you to the heavenly Jerusalem. May you rest in God’s peace. Amen.