Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 15, 2020
Book of Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128; First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30
The Gospel of Saint Matthew uses a word that has what I would like to call “then and now meanings.” The word that I am referring to is “talent.” A talent in Jesus’ time was a unit of coin, usually gold or silver, which measured by weight, was a vast amount of money. For example, one talent was worth approximately $16,500. A talent in our day indicates a “special natural ability or aptitude.” As you can see, talent is a word that can have two completely different definitions.
The parable of the talents tells us a story of a wealthy landowner who was preparing for a long journey. He calls his three servants and divides his money between them, each according to their ability and expected them to use good judgement according to their level of responsibility. To one servant he gave five talents; the second two talents; and the third one talent. Regardless of the three amounts, the landowner has given each servant a considerable amount of responsibility and, even more importantly—trust.
As we study this parable, we learn that Jesus is teaching us that God the Father has entrusted us with many talents, skills, graces, blessings, and gifts. They may be in the form of material riches or special individual talents or skills.
Matthew’s Gospel is the last in the series of parables over the past few weeks. The audience has been the Pharisees. They have been challenged and insulted by the words and stories Jesus has directed toward them. Today’s parable, however, is offered to the disciples for their encouragement. Jesus is the Master who is going on a journey. We are nearing the end of Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus. The disciples are the servants with whom Jesus has entrusted the relationship of faith. The master in the story goes on his journey and then returns expecting a fruitful accounting of his investments. There are three servants who received different amounts with which to do something.
Two did what was asked of them and one invested, out of fear, in the earth.
As with the man who came to the wedding feast improperly dressed, this fearful servant gets thrown out into the dark where there will be nothing but regret. The other two servants get invited into the “joy” of their master where even greater responsibilities will be shared.
Friends, this is not a teaching about the proper use of personal or physical gifts.
The “talents” are a symbol for the gift of faith, and the parable is about the proper employment of that gift. The winning servants were active; allowing faith to assist them in making choices of being reverent and receptive to all of God’s other gifts. They responded. The third servant was afraid of the master and doubted, because he was given a smaller amount than the first two servants. He buried his faith and did not allow the gift to multiply.
May we all learn to discover our abilities and skills, our talents if you will that God has blessed us with. May we never be afraid to make use of them in the way that God wishes. Perhaps we have many gifts but we also do not know what to do with them and just keep them hidden in the closets of our minds and bodies until they are forgotten. Discovering, developing and using our talents for the good of others are our assignment from God. In the end our Lord awaits to welcome us with the greeting, “Come, share your master’s joy.”
Question of the Day: How will you utilize your gifts and talents to the fullest?
Prayer: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord.” Psalm 128