Mystery of the Talents

Matthew 25: 14-30
1 Cor 1: 26-31 / Ps 33: 12-13, 18-21

To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to a third one talent, each according to his ability.
(Matthew 25:15)

For the talents You’re entrusting
May we gainfully parlay,
So that we may be deserving
Of Your joy on Judgment Day.

(Jesus told this parable:) “The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave 5 talents, to another two, and to a third one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went away. The man who received five talents went at once and put his money to work, gaining 5 more. So also, the one with the two talents gained 2 more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the 5 talents brought another 5. ‘Master, you entrusted me with 5 talents. See, I have gained 5 more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with small things; I will put you in charge of greater things. Come and share your master’s joy!’ The man with the 2 talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with 2 talents; see, I have gained 2 more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with small things; I will put you in charge of greater things. Come and share your master’s joy!’ Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Should you not then have put my money in the bank, so that when I returned I could have got it back with interest? Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw this useless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30)

Reflection

This Parable of the Talents is a field of treasure that can enrich a discerning mind who takes the time and trouble to meditate on the wisdom of the Master Storyteller. At first we might think that the talents in the parable represent the abilities that God apportions to different individuals. But this is clearly denied right away by the statement: “…each according to his ability.” The talents then must represent opportunities that God gives according to each person’s willingness and capability to serve. God knows each one of us differs in attitude and productivity, and so, as Jesus said, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Lk.12:48).

This parable also tells us that all blessings and “talents” in life come from God, our Divine Providence, and all our efforts must be for His honor and glory. Even the little opportunity that He gives us must be employed to build His kingdom, if we are to be worthy of it. Take heed that there is a heavy price to pay for indifference or mediocrity. The parable tells us further that God wants us to use our abilities to be productive members of our Church and community. The book of Proverbs is full of passages that condemn the idle person. Here are a few: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Prov.6:6); “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (10:4); “The soul of the sluggard gets nothing, while the diligent is richly supplied” (13:4). Finally, Jesus is telling us here that at the end of our days there will be an accounting of how we invested the talents that God had provided us. Did they produce other opportunities that benefited other souls? Or did we let pass an opportunity where we could have saved another soul?

St. Paul was one of the most tireless workers of the Lord who used his abilities in every mission where he was sent. His advice: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. Be slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Col.3:23-24).

Almighty Father, may I never be found wanting in employing the gifts that You have given me to serve Your community. Give me the strength and perseverance to bring Your Good News to others, knowing that in every opportunity the Holy Spirit may use me to save another soul. In this mission, may the talents You have given me never go to waste. Amen.

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