St. Matthew 25.vv.14-28
~ For it is as if 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 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". ~
Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) once said, "Other people are worried about the Bible passages they don't understand. As for me, it's the passages I do understand that worry me most"! But here is a parable we all understand, for the parable of the Talents is about responsibility before God for all he has given us.
In the parable the prudent owner of the estate entrusts his possessions to his servants in his absence, giving to each according to his ability, and one of them fails miserably in the task. Isn't that exactly what God does with us? He makes a wonderful world and gives it to us in trust and we have to get on with the running of it. St. Peter says, "Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received". What gifts we have received! The Holy Spirit is ever present as a guide and strengthener - yet what a mess we often make of this life!
Our gifts and abilities that we call talents are God-given, therefore God expects of us results commensurate with our abilities for our good, for the good of all his people and for his glory. But one might say, "Are not some born devoid of talents in the sense of abilities? What of the baby born mentally defective and physically handicapped? What is expected in such a case?". The answer must surely be that such a tragedy is contrary to the will of a loving heavenly Father, but the talent of such a one lies in the power to evoke compassion, love and service in those who care for and love that child.
It is true that we are not all born equal in ability, but we can be equal in our efforts to employ our gifts. God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things in his service and as Abraham Lincoln once said, "God must love ordinary people, he made so many of them!".
If we do not use our talents there is a very grave danger that we shall lose them. How many of us through lack of practice have lost the ability to speak foreign languages or to play the piano? Some have perverted or abused their gifts as skilful burglars or assassins. We may simply ignore or neglect our talents or be afraid to venture as the good-for-nothing servant in the parable. As Christians we are continually being called to adventurous living, to venture in faith. We must not stagnate or be continually looking to the past. By all means let us look to and learn from the past, but we are being called to go forward. Christianity is a "Way" and we are "pilgrim people" on the way.
Do we measure our progress continually? Each time we come to Church do we leave at least a little more loving, accepting, patient and considerate?