73. Parable of the talents
Parable of the talents….. FOR the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them.
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed; and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, andthen at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then he shall answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30
Meditation 1 of 1:
What can economics and productivity teach us about the kingdom of heaven? Jesus’ story about a businessman who leaves town and entrusts his money with his workers made perfect sense to his audience. Wealthy merchants and businessmen often had to travel abroad and leave the business to others to handle while they were gone. Why did Jesus tell this story? Most importantly it tells us something about how God deals with us, his servants. The parable speaks first of the Master’s trust in his servants. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master’s workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. Third, the master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit by idly and who do nothing with his money.
The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants’ conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master’s money was faithful up to a certain point. The servant who buried the master’s money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money.
What do coins and the law of economics have to do with the kingdom of God? The Lord entrusts the subjects of his kingdom with gifts and graces and he gives his subjects the freedom to use them as they think best. With each gift and talent, God gives sufficient the means (grace and wisdom) for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it’s not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you earnestly seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you?
“Lord, be the ruler of my heart and thoughts, be the king of my home and relationships, and be the master of my work and service. Help me to make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.”
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 Meditation: Do you allow the love of God to rule in your heart? Augustine says, “Essentially, there are two kinds of people, because there are two kinds of love. One is holy the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him.” Jesus came not only to fulfill the law, but to transform it through the gift of the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God’s love to purify your heart, thoughts, and actions?
Jesus’ story about the separation of goats and sheep must have unsettled his audience. In arid lands goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. They were separated at night because goats needed shelter. Goats were also less docile and more restless than sheep. They came to symbolize evil and the expression scape-goat has become a common expression for someone bearing blame for others. (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual expulsion of sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.) Separation is an inevitable consequence of judgement. The Day of Judgement will reveal who showed true compassion and mercy toward their neighbor. As much as we might like to judge the parables, the parables, nonetheless, judge us. Jesus teaches us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for others. God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done but also for what we have failed to do. Now is the time of God’s mercy for seeking his help and grace to turn away from sin and to walk in his way of love. Ask the Lord to purify your heart that you may love as he loves and live charitably with all.
This parable is similar to the parable about Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man let Lazarus die on his doorstep and was doomed to crave for drops of cold water he had not thought of giving to the poor man. When Martin of Tours (who lived in the 4th century), a young Roman soldier and seeker of the Christian faith, met an unclothed man begging for alms in the freezing cold, he stopped and cut his coat in two and gave half to the stranger. That night he dreamt he saw the heavenly court with Jesus robed in a torn cloak. One of the angels present asked, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?” Jesus replied, “My servant Martin gave it to me.” Martin’s disciple and biographer Sulpicius Severus states that as a consequence of this vision Martin “flew to be baptized” . God is gracious and merciful; his love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness. When we do something for one of Christ’s little ones, we do it for Christ. Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love as Christ has treated you?
“Lord Jesus, be the Master and Ruler of my heart. May your love rule in my heart that I may only think and act with charity towards all.”