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The parable of the talents

Gospel Reading: Mt 25:14-30
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. … The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five.

He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ … Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ ”

Useless servant
In the original setting of the parable, the “master” is probably a very wealthy businessman with immoral ways. He is boastful; he speaks of huge sums (talents) as “a few things,” just like rich people today casually refer to so much money as “peanuts.” He agrees with the third servant who sees him as a demanding person, harvesting where he did not plant and gathering where he did not sow. In other words, he uses evil methods in his business. And he expects his servants to follow him: to double their money through methods executed behind closed doors and outside the realm of legality.

The third servant is afraid to run such risks. He buries his master’s money. He loses nothing but makes no profit either. For not daring at all, he is kicked out by the master.

Jesus is not concerned here with the ways of worldly men but with the plan of God for the world. The cause of God will not succeed with cowards, with people who always opt for security. It will succeed with people who take risks, with those who are decisive, who know their way in this world.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.