We’ve got another one of those parables from Jesus to stretch our brains today. This is the one about the Talents. Remember – the Master gave 5 talents to one guy, 2 to another, and 1 to another. I’m sure you all know that a ‘talent’ was a measure of weight – for example pounds. It was somewhere between 75 and 125 pounds – so for argument sake we’ll say 100 pounds… so assuming the Talent they’re talking about was in gold, it would be worth over $2 million at today’s price for gold. The thing is – this parable is not really about money. I give you the value of a talent just to help us all realize that even the guy who only gets one Talent STILL is given a fortune…don’t think of him as mistreated. The question for all of us to ponder as we listen is: if it’s not about money, what’s Jesus trying to tell US with this story? You might also focus on “what did the last servant do wrong”?
Everybody understand what Jesus was trying to say? It’s not about money – so what IS it about?
We know the Talent was a way to measure wealth – so if the parable ain’t about money, It must be a metaphor for something… but What does the Talent represent? What is it that we can invest and immediately double – but if we fail to invest it, it is taken from us?
How about Love… Love only grows if it is given away. Here’s an over-simplified example: if I GIVE a hug, I RECEIVE a hug… so one hug becomes two. If instead, I bury my hugs in the ground… I actually have no hug at all. If I don’t give my love away, then none comes back to me. If I smile, it increases the smiles around me… but if I bury my smile in the ground, then not only have I missed a chance to bring joy to the world, but I have lost my own joy. Love only grows when it is given away. It also applies to our Faith – if we never actually USE our faith – if we never actually put our trust in God – then it’s like a muscle that never gets exercised… it withers. Faith only grows in the measure in which it is exercised. So my suggestion is that the Talent represents everything God gave us – our life, faith, abilities, charisms – and the parable implies that God wants us to invest it into something – but what are we investing in?
What is this “Master’s Joy” we're invited to share in?
Think about that – what gave Joy to the master in the parable? To see his kingdom growing… Same for God – his Joy comes from seeing His kingdom of Love growing. That is the joy of the Master which we are invited to share in… so when we HELP to spread the kingdom, we feel good about it…seriously… that is how we “share the master’s joy”. Notice, it’s not a reward … it’s not something we EARN… it’s simply an invitation to join the Mission that Jesus gave us to ‘share the good news with the whole world’. When we invest ourselves in that Mission, it gives purpose to our lives… it gives meaning to suffering… it energizes us and makes life worth living.
What did the final servant do to deserve being thrown into the darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth?
Nothing – he did nothing wrong… but that’s the trouble: he did nothing. The master in the parable calls the servant lazy – and that’s why he lost his Talent and ended up in darkness. Laziness…another word is Slothfulness, which is one of the seven deadly sins. You’ll recall, there are two kinds of sin: sins of COMMISSION, where we do something wrong and sins of OMMISSION where we fail to do what is required.
What is this place of darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth?
I think at the end of our lives, we’ll look back and see all the opportunities we missed to share the love of Christ with others – we’ll recognize the joy we passed up and the harm we caused to the kingdom of God – and our regret will be so intense that we will wail and gnash our teeth, because we regret that when given the opportunity to spread love… we did nothing….we failed to invest ourselves… we failed to give it away. Now it’s very important to notice that this is NOT a punishment! God doesn’t THROW us into that darkness… we choose to go there by burying what He gave us.
Here’s how I would summarize this parable – we have a choice: we can share everything God gave us to spread his kingdom of Love – and thereby share in our Master’s Joy… or we can bury our Love and continue to live in darkness.