To have the participants realize that their talents are a great God-given treasure which they must "use or lose."


  • Handouts with Bible passage (Mt. 25:14-30) to be distributed
  • Lottery story (one copy for someone to read)
  • Lottery tickets (all with the same winning number printed)
  • One extremely large "check" made out to "you" in the amount of $4,600,000

Opening Prayer

Lord, you who have given us this occasion to pray together, and have promised that when two or three are gathered in your name, you will grant their requests; answer, Lord, our prayers for our benefit, granting us in this world the knowledge of your truth and in the world to come live everlasting. Amen.

Ice Breaker

Pose the following questions to the group. Go around and allow each participant to answer the question.

Are you the type of person who spends your money, or do you put it the bank? Why?


  • Have the check $$ on display.
  • Hand out the Lottery tickets (which have been rigged).
  • Draw the winning number (matching the number on all the other tix)
  • After everyone discovers that they all have won, divide the participants into groups of 3 or 4.
  • Casually inform the groups that they have three minutes to agree on what they want to do with the money.
  • At exactly three minutes, ask the groups if they have agreed on what to do with their money. Explain that whoever has not agreed loses the right to the money. NOTE: inevitably some, if not most groups will be in this category.


Ask a volunteer to read parts of the April 26, 2002 Boston Globe article describing the $4.6 million unclaimed lottery prize.

Boston Globe
Friday April 26, 2002

A Year Later, Unclaimed Prize In Lottery Is Returned To State

By: Steven Wilmsen

The money was set aside.  A reception had been prepared.  Even a check was written – one of those giant cardboard ones made out for handing over in front of TV cameras.

Trouble is, there was no one to receive it.  Somebody, - no one knows who – bought a Megabucks lottery ticket one year ago at a lonely highway pit stop near the Rhode Island border and never claimed the $4.6 million dollar prize.  At 5 p.m. yesterday, after a frantic last-minute search by state lottery officials that included everything “short of running naked through the streets,” the deadline for redeeming the ticket expired, said the state Treasurer Shannon O’Brien.

Now the ticket, wherever it may be, is worthless.

“You just wonder what happened,” O’Brien said wistfully yesterday.  “Did they lose the ticket before they could turn it in?  Did they pass away? We did everything we could think of to do to get the word out.”

With no one to take home the biggest unclaimed lottery jackpot in Massachusetts history, it will be placed in a state unclaimed funds account, and at least $2 million of it will go as a bonus to cities and towns that get state lottery funds, O’Brien said.

The prospect of $4.6 million lying around in the form of a long-forgotten lottery ticket sparked desperate searches through purses and under sofa cushions.  Some superstitious lottery players attempting to glean the mysterious winner’s unused luck flocked to Gasbarro’s Peerless Liquors in Swansca to buy tickets from the same store the winning bet – 17-25-28-30-34-42 – was played.  And it has triggered an endless stream of speculation about who the man or woman is, and about how anyone could have been so careless. 

“Whoever it was, they’re going to be kicking themselves in the butt if they find it tomorrow,” said Analia Pacheco, manager at Gasbarro’s who spent the past several weeks searching her car, sweeping out closets, and unpacking boxes where old lottery tickets might be.

Every year, some $11 million in lottery winnings goes unclaimed, but most of that are $1 and $5 stakes, lottery officials said.  Until now, the largest Megabucks jackpot that went unclaimed was $1.7 million in 1987.  Lottery officials knew a year ago they had a mystery on their hands.  But it wasn’t until recently that officials decided to make an effort to find the winner.

In a fit of optimism, a lottery publicist, Shannon Cadres, made up an oversized check, mounted it on foam board, and entered the amount $4,594,987, leaving a blank space for the payee’s name.

“We kept waiting and thinking somebody might walk through the door at the last minute, but it just didn’t happen, “ Cadres said yesterday as the deadline passed.  “I guess I’ll have to take my big check and call it a day.” 


  • What do you think about the person who did not claim the prize?
  • Do you think it's fair for the state to take back the money? Why?
  • How would you feel if that was you?

Bible Reading

Handout the Mathew copy of Matthew 25:14-30. Have participants read it to themselves (see end of session for text of passage).


Verse 14 states 'For it will be…' What is it?  (The Kingdom of Heaven)

  • Who does the Verse 14 'man going on a journey' represent? (God)     
  • Who do the servants represent? (people)
  • What did the first two servants do with their talents and what was the consequence?  (invested, were rewarded)
  • What did the third servant do and what was his consequence? (buried talent, talent taken away)
  • Why did the third servant bury his talent? (fear, etc.)
  • What is the moral of parable? (use them or lose them)
  • Are you ever afraid to use your talents? Why?
  • Is it an option for Christians not to use their God-given talents?
  • What are some good examples of how you or others use their talents?
  • Are some people more talented than others? Does it matter?

State/Wrap Up 

Paraphrase in your own words

What we have seen through this exercise is that God calls everyone to His Kingdom and that everyone, whether they believe it or not is given a talent, hence everyone "wins the lottery."  However, it is not enough just to “win,” one must use his or her talent to the glory of God and His Church.  Only then is the talent given value.  If one were to fail to invest effort into the talent, it would lie unclaimed just as the lottery check, and like the fate of the third servant, it would be taken away.

Closing Prayer

Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

Lord, I know not what to ask of You. 
You alone know what my true needs are.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs which may be hidden from me.
I dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation.
I can only wait upon You; my heart is open to You. 
Visit and help me in Your steadfast love. 
Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will.
I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice.
I put all my trust in You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me. Amen.

Matthew 25:14-30 (RSV)

[14]"For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 
[15] to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 
[16] He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 
[17] So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 
[18] But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 
[19] Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 
[20] And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, `Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' 
[21] His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 
[22] And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, `Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 
[23] His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 
[24] He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 
[25] so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' 
[26] But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 
[27] Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 
[28] So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 
[29] For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 
[30] And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.'

Contact: Fr. Jim Katinas

Products & Services