A Potato Peeler Parable

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

A few years back, my nephew, who was still living in New England at the time, was coming to Providence to join me for dinner. Actually he was coming to Providence to cook dinner for me, because I don’t cook.
Before he left home he called to ask, “Uncle Tom, do you have a potato peeler in your kitchen?” He knew that my kitchen furnishings were pretty limited. “Gee, Dan, I don’t know,” I said. “What does a potato peeler look like?”
He brought his own potato peeler with him.
I tell this story to explain that cooking isn’t one of my talents. A gourmet meal for me is a microwaved pizza supreme that I picked-up at the drugstore. Really. But the larger point of the parable is that we all have strengths and weaknesses, various gifts and talents. We all have some things we’re good at, and some things we’re not good at. We should celebrate the gifts we have and not mourn those we don’t. And we should admire the gifts other folks have, and never be jealous or envious.
And this is true of spiritual gifts as well. St. Paul described it this way: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service, but the same Lord” (I Cor 12: 4-5). And then he spoke of the mystery of the Body of Christ. “Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually part of it,” (I Cor 12:27) he said, and went on to list the variety of gifts that were given to members of the Church, gifts meant to be used to strengthen the Church, the Body of Christ.
So, what are the gifts you have to share with the Church? Do you have musical or artistic talents? Perhaps you’re an excellent reader, or an outstanding teacher. Maybe you have excellent administrative and organizational skills. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has led you to a life of intense prayer and contemplation. Are you blessed with substantial wealth that can be generously donated to support the ministry of the Church? That’s important too!
Be grateful for whatever gifts you have, and use them well. But remember that St. Paul said that of all the gifts we have, “the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor 13:13) That’s a gift we all can practice and share.
Something to think about: What are your talents? Are you sharing them with others?


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