Jesus said to his disciples, “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Today’s Gospel reading is the continuation of the reading of last Sunday. It is also about the theme: “What the kingdom of heaven is like”, but is told in another parable. For the purpose of our understanding of the reading, it would be better to say that it is like to experience grace coming to our world.
If we try to understand the reading literally, it would be hard for us to sense it is the Gospel, the Good News. This is because we find there are anger, harshness and punishment in the reading, particularly to the happening to the third servant. However, since the Bible is the revelation of God in his salvation plan to us, we should see today’s reading in the context of the Incarnation, Passion, death on the Cross and the Resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus, who is the Son of God, came to us as a human being living among us in Palestine some 2,000 years ago. He is central to God’s salvation plan for us. Thus, his mission was to fulfil his Father’s plan. He did not hide his talents as the third servant did. Instead, he took the risk to go to Jerusalem to complete his mission.
That is why the talents in the reading cannot be interpreted as personal properties given by God. In the parable, it should be seen as God’s precious gift intended to multiple and be life-giving for all. The third servant did not use the gift in such a way and this is why he is called “good for nothing” in the reading.
The first two servants are trusting and free spirited. And they experience abundance. Should they not be our example? Being Christians, we are called to lead an active life of faith. If we indulge in self-pitying and stop doing anything, we may lose everything we have.
The key message of the reading is Jesus’ invitation to us to trust him. If we can trust him, we will be on the right track. Can we go ahead and trust him? May God give us the grace to be trustful followers of Jesus. Amen.