Jesus told his disciples this parable: ‘A man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
‘After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
‘And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
‘Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”
‘But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”’
For as long as I can remember we have been urged to offer Christ our time, our talents and our treasure. We have been encouraged to offer, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, that which was gifted to us by God. Some, sadly too few, have taken this call seriously, Others, the majority, have treated the notion of such generosity with contempt.
As on other days this week, our reading is inviting us to consider our response to God’s call in our lives. We have been invited to reflect upon our readiness to meet Christ face-to-face. We have been challenged to keep ourselves ready for that moment when we will be called to account for all that has been entrusted into our care by God. Today’s reading brings all of that together in the parable of the talents.
A talent was a specific measure of wealth. One talent was the equivalent of the wages a labourer might expect to earn over the period of twenty years. The notion of being entrusted with ten talents would have been beyond the imaginations of those who heard this parable for the first time. In modern terms it would have been a sum in the region of £5 billion! But, of course, Jesus was not really talking about money. Jesus was talking about the enormity and the all-inclusiveness of God’s generosity to each and every one of us.
We have all received much from God. Our very lives are a gift from God, without taking into account our time, talent and treasure. The servants who were entrusted with their master’s wealth represent us. We are entrusted with much and we are called to use what we are given wisely and profitably. But, the profit we should be seeking is the glory of God and not personal advantage.
Everyone, whether rich or poor, has a unique set of talents that they are called to use in God’s service. Even if we do not have excessive wealth, we all have the capacity to love and serve in our own ways. Some of us have specific talents that can be used to enrich the lives of others. Some of us are able to share material wealth and possessions that far exceed our personal needs. Some have the gift of being able to pray for those in need of God’s forgiveness and healing. Whoever we are we have talents (great riches) that God has given us for the benefit of all.
Let us pray that we might not bury our God-given talents, but rather that we might use them for the good of those amongst whom we live. Let us pray that through our generosity of spirit the lives of others may be made more bearable. Let us pray that we may be true to God’s call to use all that he has showered upon us to his glory and praise.