The Parable of the Talents

Today’s Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30, tells the Parable of the Talents.  A Master who was going away on a journey and called three of his servants, and entrusted his wealth to them.  Upon his return, he asks for an accounting of their stewardship.  The first servant, who was given 5 talents, used them and earned 5 more.  The second servant, who was given two talents, used them and earned 2 more.  The third servant was afraid of his master, so he buried his money so that he could return it to the master upon his return.

What does this have to do with the gifts that are given to us?  Plenty.  Talents” just aren’t our “God-given talents” we can choose to foster, like playing a musical instrument, having a creative mind, or being able to see trends when looking at spreadsheets of data.  Speaking of plenty, take a look at what’s happening in this passage.  The Master was entrusting “all” his wealth to his servants…and that means “everything.”  The Master had 8 talents.  He didn’t hold back anything – he gave it all to them.

So, how much is a talent?  The Talent is a Greek coin worth 6,000 Drachmas.  A Drachma is a day’s wage. In today’s money, if those 3 employees only made minimum wage, a talent would amount to about $360,000 US.  Therefore, it would be as if a CEO gave his only 3 employees his entire fortune of $2,880,000.  Indeed, the first servant who was given 1.8 million dollars and made another 1.8 million was financially “talented.”  But doesn’t that happen in today’s society, too?  Those that have wealth seem to be the ones who can put it to use.  Recall the end of the parable, too.  The third servant that simply gave the 1 talent back to the Master caused the Master to get angry.  The Master gave it to the first servant, and then threw the third servant out into the street.  Since this was a servant, it wasn’t as if he was thrown out of an establishment as we see today.  The servant had no place to go, and was to live as a homeless person.  “The street” was an incredibly nasty place to be back then.  It also could be where the phrase “The rich get richer and poor get poorer” has its roots.  Not only the poor, but the fearful.

While we can look at talents as abilities, as well as money, we can also look at it as the amount of faith we have.  Jesus told us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed (the smallest seed which grows into one of the largest plants), we could tell a mountain to move…and it would.  While we claim to have faith, there are many times that our common sense and logic holds us back from having more, and growing it.  Through this parable, Jesus is calling us to take big risks in faith – both in having the faith to do so, and, by “putting it all out there,” or “going all in,” our faith may increase.  Doubling what we invest is a gain of 100 percent.  And if we keep taking those risks by not only sharing, but investing our faith, it will be rewarded not just twofold…but a hundredfold.

But we have to be willing to risk it all.

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