The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.15To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
REFLECTION, By Fr Aldo, sx
I have listened to preachers who interpret the “talents” mentioned in this parable as personal qualities that each individual has. Such preachers, sad to say, lead their audiences far from the parable’s real meaning. The verse 15 makes it clear that the talents were distributed according to the capacity of each one; Therefore, they cannot be personal capacities and qualities.
The man who went to a journey in the Matthean story is obviously Jesus Christ who after the resurrection ascended to the Father’s glory. The servants entrusted with talents are all who accepted the faith, the disciples, the baptized. What talent did Jesus leave to the servants before ascending to heaven? He left the Church, the Gospel, the love for all, specially for the poor and marginalized, the power of healing, the Sacraments, etc. In short, these are the riches, and each talent is related to a ministry.
During this time while our Lord is not physically present we live the time of the Church. This is the time in which through the various ministries the Christian community should be producing fruits and bringing transformation upon the whole world until the time of fulfillment when Our Lord shall return. According to the capacities, each one should get involved in a ministry for the good of the entire community. Some have more affinity to preach the Word, others can prepare people for Baptism and other Sacraments, others help in prepare the youth for wedding and family life; others are more inclined to assist the poor, the disabled, the elderly, etc. Still others are sent to bring the Gospel to other places; while others prepare the liturgical celebrations, organize choirs and facilitate worship. Every one can get involved with something; no one should feel useless.
The story says that the lazy and useless servant should at least have deposited the talent in a bank. If for any reason a minister is unable to serve, he should not keep the slot by inactively holding on to a position. He or she should at least return that responsibility to the ecclesial community so that somebody else who can produce fruits can take over.
The community that is alive, reliable and fruitful can be entrusted with even greater responsibilities. But the assembly that is lifeless, unreliable and corrupt, even the little they have will be taken away from them.
Communities that are committed, evangelizer, generous, open to the signs of the times, aware that they are not owner of the ministries grow ever more in vitality. But those that are closed in themselves soon enter into decadence, fade away and it should not be a surprise if they are deemed to disappear.
The tone of today’s entire liturgy is related to the obligation each one has to engage actively in service, ministry, for the good of the community and for the transformation of the whole world.