‘The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.’ – J.S. Bach
I’m a reluctant musician. God has given me a gift (which I don’t consider to be very good) that I would rather not use unless I’m forced to. I usually go kicking and screaming as I’m being dragged along. I find I walk the dangerous territory between pride and humility when I use the gift I’ve been given. I’m a weak one when it comes to pride. I’d rather not put myself in the way of temptation.
Our talented German friend certainly has it right about what music really is. Let me go one step further (or backwards, depending on how you look at it) and say that the beginning of all music should be none other than the glory of God. So how does an unwilling musician ever use their gift? How does anyone use the gifts they’ve been given and not be held back by their feelings of unworthiness or tempted by pride and glory? It’s not an easy task. Honestly, it can be quite painful. However, finding a reason outside of yourself, knowing before you even begin that it’s not about you will help you share whatever gift you have.
Our gifts are not our own. When we realize that the joy of others is dependent on our gifts, it gives you more reason not to hide. God uses us to reach out to others. We each have our gifts and talents. Some people have the gift of music and when they use their talent, God can bring calm and comfort into a soul that has just experienced the loss of a friend. Some might have the gift of making conversations and God could use that to reach out to a lonely student sitting by themselves at lunch. Even the seemingly small moments, like smiling to people passing by, can be the greatest work God could perform in someone else’s day. When God calls you to live in His joy and use His gifts, many blessings pour out!
Christ Himself told His disciples to use what God has given them. Let’s check out Matthew 25:14-30: The Parable of the Talents. (For your knowledge, in this parable, a ‘talent’ refers to a measurement of gold or silver, in other words, money.) In this parable, Jesus tells about a man going on a journey. Before he departs, he gathers his servants and gives each of them a certain amount of money (according to their ‘ability’). The first one receives 5, the next receives 2, and the last receives 1. The first two servants go out and invest in their talents and end with double the amount they started with. The last servant buries his 1 talent in the ground. When the master comes back, each servant presents what they have. The first two are rewarded with great responsibilities and a sharing of the master’s joy. The last servant who buried his 1 talent is thrown out.
So what does this parable mean for a 21st century audience? Let’s begin with the man going on a journey. He is God. We are the servants. Some receive ‘great’ gifts, others receive more humble gifts. We are gifted with what God knows we can handle. With the first two servants, they go out into the world and invest their money. Likewise, we are meant to go out into the world and invest in our ‘talents’. In return, we receive graces and blessings. The ‘villian’ of the story is the last servant. This is what NOT to do. This servant was given the smallest amount. He chose to bury it. In the end, he reaps no reward and is literally thrown out of the house! When God gives us something, no matter how little it may appear, it is not meant to be hidden away and buried beneath the dirt of all our unworthiness, fear, and sin. We aren’t supposed to be concerned with whether or not our gift/talent is helping other people. God will take care of that, more so than we could ever imagine. When we choose to hide, we will be thrown out of the presence of God’s joy, just like the servant.
When you realize that the Spirit is calling and urging you to use your gifts, receive the task with joy and do not be afraid! The Spirit goes before you and with you in all things! If you feel your gift is ‘small’, think of the widow who offered the very little she had (Luke 21: 1-4). God rejoices when we give everything we have, especially in the smallest things. If you’re like me and wonder if you even have any gifts and talents to offer, the first thing to do is don’t compare yourself to others. It’s a total trap that will only lead to misery and spiritual death. Instead, lean into the Sacred Heart of Christ! To better understand who we are, we must learn about the One who made us. When you place everything you are (sins and joys) before the foot of the Cross, Christ pours out His mercy. God sees you in a beautiful and loving way that you cannot conceive it. What you feel are your greatest weaknesses just might be the gifts you think you lack. So embrace the weaknesses and give them over to God. When you walk continuously with God, one day you will see His Love working in others and in your own heart. The path is difficult but the destination is worth any pain or trial you encounter.
Brothers and sisters, I leave you with a song from the heart of a musician and servant who understands his weakness but knows God’s love is greater. Pray the words. Allow them to be a cry to heaven. God hears the cries from the hearts of His children.
Duc et altum!