November 13, 2005 - Pentecost A +26
• 14 Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them. 15 He gave five talents of silver to one, then two to another, and one to a third, each one according to his ability; and he went away.
16 He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money and gained another five. 17 The one who received two did the same and gained another two.18 But the one with one talent dug a hole and hid his master’s money.
19 After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning. 20 The one who received five talents came with another five talents, saying: 'Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see I have gained five more with them.' 21 The master answered: 'Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.'
22 Then the one who had two talents came and said: 'Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; I have two more which I gained with them.' 23 The master said: 'Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.'
24 Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said: 'Master, I know that you are an exacting man. You reap what you have not sown and gather what you have not invested. 25 I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours.' 26 But his master replied: 'Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not invested. 27 Then you should have deposited my money in the bank, and you would have given it back to me with interest on my return.
28 Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
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During the time of Jesus, a talent was an amount, thirty kilograms of precious metal, but in this parable when Jesus spoke of talents he referred to the abilities given by God to each of us. Since then, people came to understand the word "talent" in this sense.
Good and faithful servant (v. 21). Faithful: it would be better translated: "reliable." We do not find any word of religious vocabulary in this parable.
God sees the way one has used his talents, and the sin is to have kept for self what one has received. What condemnation of a society where it is usual to enjoy and consume what has been received: a better human formation and knowledge inherited from the homeland which should be transmitted to one’s descendants, the blessings and benefits of a family where the parents knew how to sacrifice themselves for their children, and perhaps the Word of God to be carried out in order to realize God's great plan for the world.
I will entrust you with much more. What we achieve on earth is not definitive but only the scaffolding: quite other will be the riches that God will distribute to those who will live in him.
You know that I reap where I have not sown (v. 26). As in Luke 18:1, Jesus is aware of our unavowed defiance towards God and takes us at our word. If we do not aspire to the place that the husband reserves for a wife (25:1), let us try at least not to be useless servants.
There are many opportunities for us to take initiatives, but we often are afraid to put ourselves forward: "I am not the most qualified." What if those who are qualified have not budged? Then, take the talent from him and give it to someone else.
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1. It is the third servant that reveals the master. It is easy to be generous in good times. Without having to do anything wealth has brought forth wealth. The middle managers have been taken advantage of. They gain some expectation that there will be more coming (remember here those hired first) but it is the master who ends up with their gain (did you read it that they got to keep the investment and the proceeds?).
2. All is going swimmingly until the third servant either didn't play the game or couldn't play the game. It is this poverty that reveals the master as mean and vindictive and greedy.
This is similar to the way in which poverty revealed the poverty of those in political power. Reduce their wages, repossess their homes, displace their lives, throw them into the dark.
3. An interesting comment that there is no religious vocabulary in this story. This reveals the way of the world and raises the question of how would a follower of Jesus handle the situation? How are you revealed in times of stress, when you don't get the return you are due? Would you be revealed as ultimately relying on violence.
On November 11-12, 2005 Kairos CoMotion held an event with Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki around the topic of "Forgiveness as Power: Transcending Violence". How would you apply that title to this story?
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