The parable in question today is the one concerning the rich man who gives talents to three of his servants and then sets out on a journey [Matt 25:14-30].
The Parable of the Talents.
14. “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey* called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21. His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 22. [Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23. His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 24. Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25. so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26. His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!* So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27. Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28. Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Upon his return, he assesses the situation and discovers that the servant to whom he had given five talents had invested or traded with them fruitfully and that the servant to whom he had given two talents had done the same. But the master finds, to his chagrin, that the slave to whom he had entrusted one talent had simply buried the wealth and had garnered neither gain nor interest. Angered, he orders that the one talent be taken from the timid servant and given to the servant who had invested most boldly. The person he risked it all was now going to be awarded the talent from the person who was afraid to risk any.
At this point comes the devastating moral lesson: “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
The standard reading of this story—on display in thousands of sermons and homilies—is that the talents symbolize gifts and abilities that God has given to us and that he expects us to “spend” generously or “invest” wisely. This interpretation is supported by the fairly accidental relationship that obtains between “talent” in the ancient Biblical sense of the term and “talent” in ordinary English today. ` They reckoned that talent meant the same in those days as it does in English today. The truth could not be further from the truth.
A talent in ancient times was a measure of something particularly weighty, usually in silver or gold. A single talent might represent as much as 50 pounds of precious metal and, as such, was not something that one carried around in one’s pocket. We might make a comparison between a talent and a unit of gold kept at Fort Knox, or an ingot of silver preserved in a safe deposit box. In other words this was a great deal of wealth.
What the contemporary reader will likely miss, and what the ancient Jewish reader would have caught immediately, is the connection to heaviness: a talent was weighty, and five talents was massively heavy. Heaviness would have brought to mind the heaviest weight of all, which was the kabod of Yahweh. That term was rendered in Greek as doxa and in Latin as gloria, both of which carry the connotation of luminosity, but the basic sense of the Hebrew word is heaviness, gravitas.
And this kabod Yahweh was to be found in the Jerusalem Temple, resting upon the mercy seat within the Holy of Holies. Therefore, what was heaviest (most glorious) of all was the mercy of God, which abided in infinite, inexhaustible abundance in the Holy Temple.
In light of these clarifications, we can read Jesus’ parable with fresh eyes. The talents given to the three servants are not so much monetary gifts or personal capacities; they are a share in the mercy of God, a participation in the weightiness of divine love. But since mercy is always directed to the other, these “talents” are designed to be shared. In point of fact, they will increase precisely in the measure that they are given away. Maybe God’s mercy would be a better way to approach this subject. However, no matter how you cut it a person must be involved in their own salvation to the point that they must be actively living a Christian life and practicing the teachings of Christ. If you have a talent today, use it for the Church. If you have a desire to serve a vocation, talk to your Diocese' Vocational Director and sit down and do it. The time for talk is over with and the time for action is upon right here and right now. God expects us to be great. It is God’s Great Expectations. Do not have a dickens of time in this passage. Use your talents to build up the Kingdom of God and we will never be let down in this world or the next. We should use our talents for the building up of the Kingdom of God here on earth and in heaven.
There are five takeaways from this parable.
1. We are not all created with equal skills, abilities and opportunities.
Society teaches something much different- we are all created equal and we are equally talented. However, this is much different from what is actually really happening.
2. Success only occurs when we take action.
If you do nothing you lose.
3. When we do work, our efforts are to be aimed toward God and not our own self-pleasure or agenda.
If you work to please yourself you may not be pleasing God.
4. God always gives us everything we need to do what He has called us to do.
He will never call us to something that we are not prepared to do.
5. We will be held accountable.
Judgement Day is coming- let us prepare today for tomorrow and the future. Amen