Symbols of Love

Symbols of Love

It had been a disappointing fifteenth birthday, with barely a birthday greeting from anyone. When my father came in from work, I was still pouting. But he had a birthday gift for me—a custom-made pair of shoes. I am the youngest of twelve children, so a new pair of shoes was a big deal. I had hurt my back while playing rugby, and the doctors suggested that these shoes might help with pain relief. 

When I opened the gift, I was devastated. They were the ugliest shoes I had ever seen! I grunted “thanks” and started to walk out of the room. But as I left, I glanced back at my father and saw a tear in his eye. I did what any teenager would do and kept walking down the hallway. Then a pang of guilt came over me, and I went back.  

I said I was sorry, and my father motioned for me to sit down and listen. “Brendan, you think the shoes are my gift to you, but you are wrong. My love is my gift, and the shoes are just a symbol of my love.” He teared up; I cried and apologized for being so childish. 

In today’s parable, Jesus teaches us that it is not how much we receive from God but how we use what we receive. God’s true gift for us is his love, not the number or nature of our talents. Some have more talents than others, but God loves each of us uniquely. To invest that gift of love wisely is to share it with others. If we do this, Jesus promises that we will receive even more love in return—a bigger and greater deal than we could ever imagine. 

Fr. Brendan McGuire

Brendan McGuire is pastor of St. Simon Parish, Los Altos, California, and author of a book of Sunday homilies, Weaving the Divine Thread.