Prophets and every day talents we fail to recognize

Recently I reflected on the passage from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus gets up and preaches in his local synagogue and the people in his town write him off as just one of the kids from the neighborhood. They assumed that a child of a poor carpenter would have nothing of importance to say to them.

This story sparked thoughts of how we often discount or don’t recognize the wisdom and abilities of those who are closest to us, people we often take for granted. We can marvel at something said by a well-known public figure or someone in authority and think it profound, while our parents or others in our lives can say the very same thing and we tend to ignore the message.

There are women in my community, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who have exceptional gifts and talents. They are experts at what they do and yet sometimes we will hire others to do the same things that they can often do better.

This happens on many levels. My congregation was ready to spend a lot of money to redesign our Web site only to learn that we have employees who possess the needed skills to create a great product. Luckily we found out about this expertise before spending a great deal of money hiring someone from the outside.

And why is it that someone we know can have what we consider to be a great idea and receive little or no response. Another important person can suggest the very same thing and everyone thinks the idea is fantastic.

These and other incidents remind me about how we often do not take the time to listen and get to know and acknowledge the abilities of the people we spend the good part of our days with. Maybe a person has great leadership skills but has never been asked to be a chairperson of a committee or sit on the parish council. Or a school might spend lots of money recruiting a head coach when a very talented assistant coach works well with the students and would do a great job.

It would be a helpful exercise to reflect on the gifts and talents we see in those we rub elbows with day in and day out and find ways to affirm and call them forth.

If we are not careful, we can write off the gifts and talents of people because they are young or elderly or because we just don’t take the time to recognize their abilities.

Our affirmation and recognition of others may be the spark they need to further develop their gifts and become all that God made them to be.

Let us not overlook or discount the wisdom of the people in our everyday lives. Before we look in the yellow pages for wisdom or expertise, let’s first look around us. The help we need might be right in our midst. God often works through the people we least expect.

Sister Margie Lavonis is a Sister of the Holy Cross from Notre Dame, Ind., and writes “The Cutting Edge.” Contact her at