When I was a newly ordained priest, I had a number of priests telling me that I needed to open up a Roth IRA. I had no idea what they were talking about. They said, “Just listen to me and trust to open up a Roth IRA.” Do you think I listened? No. Seven years later I decided to open up a Roth IRA and you could put the maximum of $5,000.00 in back then.
You may not know this, but priests have to provide for their own retirement, so they told us over and over in the Seminary, “You have to save money to provide for your retirement.” I just wanted to give it all away when I finally had a paycheck again. When you go to the Seminary you can’t work. I finally put it in about seven years ago. I was with some other priest friends. My Dad is really into this, so I had my Dad look at it and I thought, “Oh my gosh, there’s a lot more money now over seven years.” Then I learned about compound interest, so it just keeps growing and growing and snowballing. The earlier you start the better. Younger people if you haven’t started a Roth IRA, do it now!
Now I tell younger priest when they are ordained, I’ll always say to them, “You have to start a Roth IRA right now.” And they look at me and they say, “I don’t know what that means.” And I say, “You don’t have to know what it means, just start it right now. I’ll open it up for you.” It took me years to learn this and figure it out.
In the Gospel today, we hear about this compound. We hear about this notion of the talents that one is given, five talents; one is given two talents; one is given one talent and they’re supposed to invest it. If they invest in it there’s a compound interest that happens.
A talent was actually the word for a large sum of money. One talent equaled 20 years of daily wages so twenty years of daily wages. If you figure somebody right now were to make $50,000.00 a year, 20 years of that would be a million dollars. So, God was giving the first one a million dollars; the second two million dollars and the one with the most ability, He gave five million. The idea is that they were supposed to invest it. I’m sure when they got that talent right off the bat, they weren’t quite sure what they were going to do with it.
I want to think about each and every one of us, we are given by God a large amount of money. If you think about all the money that you have had or gained over 20 years, it’s a lot of money for each and every one of us. God is giving us and inviting us in this passage to invest that money, not bury it.
We hear in the Gospel of Matthew, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” You have probably heard this idea of time, talent and treasure before. That is what we’re supposed to do as being good stewards, we’re supposed to give our time, our talent and our treasure. I want you to think about each one of these as I go through them and how you can personally do that for the church and even here, St. Matthias.
You may have heard that I read the book, Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, where he proposes that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. So, if you do something for 10,000 hours you will become one of the top 1% in the world in terms of that. That might seem overwhelming 10,000 hours, but other experts says if you spend 20 hours at something, you will at least have some mastery of it. So, you have some idea how to do it.
I want you to think about that with the church over this next year. How can you give your time? How can you really invest your time in the church, and I would just use that model of 20 hours. So, take 20 hours, can you do something extra special (outside of Mass) and invest your time.
The second with that talent. Talent is where we get the word talent. Also, we’re called to use our talents in the service of the church. What is your gift? What are your talents that in some way can be used for the Glory of God? A lot of people will say to me, “Father I don’t have a talent.” What I would say is take 20 hours, pick something that you might be interested in and do that talent for 20 hours and you will find that it will grow.
Then finally, treasure. All money that we have is God’s gift. Everything that we have is God’s gift. Our time is this gift. Each and every one of us probably does have more money than we are aware of if you were to look around the whole world. Find a way to give to the poor, to the needy, or the church. Sometimes people will say to me, “Father I want this at the church.” I have to try to figure out how to find that in the budget. What I really love is, “Father I want to do this and here’s some money to do it.” I really love that.
There is a tradition of tithing of giving 10% to the church. I remember when I got out of the Seminary and I thought, “Finally I can do this.” It’s really exciting for me to think I have this much money, 10% of what I have, and I can give it to the poor or give it to the church or give it to somebody without having any guilt of being imprudent. Try to think of a way that you can do that at St. Matthias. First ask, “Do we give 10% to the church?” Maybe this Gospel can help us to see that. If we invest, God is going to bless us a hundredfold.
We also hear in Matthew that, “Everyone who gives up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of My name will receive a hundred times more in this life and eternal life in the next.” That is why I get excited about giving money because we’re going to receive it back in this life and eternal life.
In the first reading we hear an image of this bride. “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.” Whenever we hear about the bride, the church is symbolic of the bride. So, Jesus is the bridegroom, and the church is the bride. What it is saying here is when a man is looking for a lovely wife, he’s not looking for beauty; he’s not looking for anything else other than she uses her hands to serve the poor.
“She uses her hands to serve the poor, she puts her hands to the distaff and her fingers to apply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy.”
I don’t know about all of you, when you are first getting married or dating, if that was the first quality that you looked at in a woman but that is what Jesus is saying. The most beautiful thing that we can do is to give.
Finally, God entrusts His heart to you. We hear that in the reading, “Her husband entrusting his heart to her has an unfailing prize.” God the Father wants to give you His heart and you become His unfailing prize. As He entrusts His heart to you, the desire is that God now wants to work through you. God wants to work through our hands, our lives, our giving so that other people can know this love of God the Father.
In this parable, Jesus is telling us that God has given each one of us a tremendous amount of time, talent, and treasure. All of you are given a talent and hopefully that talent is not buried. Hopefully that talent is invested.
Just like the advice I got in the beginning about opening up a Roth IRA, sometimes you don’t even have to know what it means. When you give, you don’t have to know how God is going to work with them. Just trust by giving to the church, by giving your gifts of talents and time God will compound that interest and something beautiful will happen beyond our imagination.
So, open up the church and truly give so that we can experience this compound love interest that God wants to have for us here at St. Matthias and then we become a beacon of love to this whole area.