The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 25:14-30
Today we hear the parable of the talents. The talents spoken of by the Lord Jesus are a reference to a specific amount of money. It is said that a talent is an amount of silver equaling roughly 6,000 denarii. Since a denarius was seen as the normal wage for one day of labor, a talent was the equivalent of 20 years of labor.
We are told that a man entrusted 3 different servants with three different amounts of resources before he left for a long trip. To one man he gave five talents (100 years worth of living wages). To another he gave 2 talents (40 years worth of wages). To a third he gave 1 talent (20 years worth of wages). He then went away without telling them exactly what to do with the resources.
When the man returned he found that the first servant had taken the resources that were given to him and multiplied them. He found that the second had also done the same with the resources that were given to him. Lastly, he went to the third servant and found that he had not multiplied his resources at all. In fact he never even tried. He simply buried the resources that were given to him and imagined that they were not there.
This gospel reading certainly has many important lessons regarding how we use the finances that are put in our path. Are we using money to enlarge the kingdom of God? Are we using money to bring others to Jesus Christ and to His Church? Are we using our money to help those who have real need? Those are important questions to be asking ourselves but there are also some other considerations at work here in the gospel.
The talent can be seen as more than simply money. The talent is a way to consider your life’s work. After all the talent is worth 20 years of labor. In that regard, God has given each man, woman and child a certain amount of gifts. Maybe it is the gift to sell, the gift of investing, the gift of writing or teaching, the gift of working with your hands or healing others through medicine. Perhaps it is the gift of administration or fund raising or the gift of child rearing. God has given some the gift of playing music, while giving others the gift of athleticism. To each and every person God gives a certain measure of gifts, talents that they will use throughout their life to survive and possibly to thrive. Do we recognize that these skills are actually gifts from God? What are we doing to cultivate these gifts? Are we improving on what God has given us and using it to the fullest potential or simply burying that potential deep down where no one can be affected by it?
I’m going to say something that might surprise you; God wants us to be great. Yes, it’s true. Of course God’s idea of great and our idea of great are not nearly the same thing. If you want to know what God’s greatness looks like, take a look at the Lord Jesus. In the Lord we see the only true example of a man fully alive. A man who lives and breathes and eats and sleeps to do the will of God in His life. A man who uses each of the gifts God has given Him and doesn’t squander them or use them for His own selfish gains. He is a master who acts like a servant with the gifts that He has, while we are servants that pretend to be masters over our lives, our talents.
No doubt about it, God wants you to be great. God wants you to be great for Him. God wants you to be great for the Kingdom. God wants your greatness to be a reflection of His greatness. That is why you were created and loved and redeemed. Have I ever looked in the mirror and asked myself “What am I doing to glorify God with all that He was done for me?” We need to develop the habit of asking that question. I don’t work to pay a mortgage or put my kids through school or to buy fancy cars. I work to glorify God above all else. Everything else is a branch that extends from the trunk. That trunk is love for and service to God.
I need to develop the habit of asking myself difficult questions because God will ask me much more difficult questions. He will ask if I’ve been faithful with all the things He’s given me. He will ask if I was working for Him or for myself. He might ask me why I died a rich man when so many around me were so poor. He might ask me why I gave pennies to the church and kept back more than I could ever spend.
The message of the parable is to do something, anything to use the gifts God has given you. This comes with a special promise. We are told that the one who uses the talents well is called a “good and faithful servant.” It would be enough if that was our only reward from God, but He continues “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.” This life that we’ve been given is many things. It is a gift, it is a blessing, but it’s also a test according to Our Lord Jesus. Our response to this test will determine what God gives us in the future not only here on Earth but in the Kingdom. If we were diligent in applying ourselves to God’s work and His kingdom, He will be generous with us because He knows that it won’t go to waste.
I pray that God will continue to bless us with talents and show us how we might use them for His glory! AMEN.