by Fr. Jonathan Hemmings


One of the great blessings of being a servant and disciple of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is that we are loved beyond measure. We are each of us unique and special in God's sight. When God created us he gave us the stamp of precious individuality,in our looks,in our nature even to the finest details of our fingerprint. God loves diversity in His creation. The wonderful mystery of our Great God is that whilst we hide from Him like Adam did in the Garden of Eden or run away from Him as the Prodigal did he loves us, seeks us out and runs to meet us.

We may try to decieve God and others at times. We may indeed, try to deceive ourselves but the one who made us knows us and sees behind our masks for who we are. There is nothing hidden from Him, God has the ability to see the real person and to see both our failings and our potential. Christ chose ordinary men to be His apostles. Not many people would have chosen Peter the impetuous and the one who denied him or Paul the persecutor of the Christians who togther became pillars of the Church. But Our Lord Jesus Christ did. Not many people would have picked a pessimist and doubter like Thomas to be a right hand man. But Our Lord Jesus Christ did. Not many would have wished to pay a visit to a quisling and an extortioner tax-gatherer like Zacchaeus who was hated and resented by the people. But Our Lord Jesus Christ did. Not many people would have allowed a woman of ill repute to wash his feet with her tears. But Our Lord Jesus Christ did. Christ sees the possibilities in people and has the power to see the hidden strength and love in every human life and to awaken the sleeping beauty in the soul of every person.

When we awake from the sleep of indifference we can become exceptional — I think this word comes from the Greek word for clever which literally means out of sleep — ex-upnos. One of the Parables that Jesus told was the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:24-30). In that parable we are challenged to be accountable as Christians. There is a striking condemnation of the man who hid his talent in the earth and did nothing with it. No doubt the man said to himself: "It's all very well for the others with five and two talents; but I've only got one talent." What is the use of me trying to do anything? It is hopeless with one talent; it is not worth trying." No Christian should ever say this because we have the in-dwelling All Holy Spirit (the Parakletos) to assist, comfort, strengthen,guide and teach us what to do and say with the particular talent God has given to each one of us.

Do you remember the story from the fathers of the monk who had been a circus performer (a juggler) before he became a monk? Others had skills in singing and chanting,in organising, farming and in cooking but this young monk could only juggle. One night having nearly despaired that he could do nothing else well, he decided to go into the church and to offer his one talent, juggling, in front of the Holy Icons of the Saviour and the Theotokos. The Abbot was awoken in dismay to discover this young monk juggling in front of the Holy Icons. He beat him without mercy and locked him in his cell. That very night the Theotokos visited the Abbot in a dream: "How dare you treat this precious servant of God in this manner," she warned the Abbot "Go to his cell and beg his forgiveness this very instant for this was his one talent which he has offered in love before the throne of God. "The Abbot awoke and straight way went to the cell of the monk to beg his forgiveness. That night the Abbot learned a lesson about humility, of the potential in every person and the value of every offering given in love.

Jesus told his disciples to "Go ... and teach all nations"(Matt.28;19). What if the apostles had said: "It's hopeless" ... but they were filled with the Holy Spirit and went out to all Judaea, and Samaria and to the uttermost part of the earth.(Acts of the Apostles 1:8,15).  God has given to you a special gift or talent that he wants you to use. He has not left you alone to do this; you have the Holy Spirit to help you achieve nothing less than miracles.


December 1999