How are we using what has been entrusted to us? In today’s parable of the talents, a wealthy man goes on a journey. He entrusts his money to his three servants. Once home from the journey, he called his servants to report on how they used this money. Two of them had made wise investments and doubled their original amounts. They were highly commended and rewarded. The third servant had hidden his portion of money in a safe place. He had nothing to show but the original amount. The end of the story was not pretty.
In 1776 representatives from the 13 colonies signed a document that declared “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal.” At face value, this statement is utterly untrue. We are not equal. We are unequal in intellectual and physical abilities. We are unequal in social opportunities and advantages.
In the parable, Jesus simply states each was given amounts according to each one’s ability-one, 5,000 silver pieces, another 2,000 and a third, 1,000. The fact remains, some are given more than others. The most richly-endowed servants were both given identical commendations, “well done.” The man with the smallest endowment was held to the same high standards of the other two. His failure to produce anything brought him a severe judgment. He expected nothing of himself and his master found that attitude unacceptable. In most of Jesus’ stories, the championed is the underdog. But in this, the one who has the least finishes last. He ends up losing what little he had.
Why did Jesus tell this story? Perhaps it was because he knew the tendency of ordinary people to discount their worth. Those of us who cannot do great things are strongly tempted to excuse ourselves from doing anything. If we cannot give a large amount of money, we will not give. If we can’t be the best player on the team, we won’t be on the team. This story challenges this erroneous thinking. Here we are introduced to a new system of measurements. The real test is not accomplishment, but effort. Those who use their small gifts faithfully are placed on par with the most gifted person who does the same. But the spotlight of the story falls on the man who was given the least. He was not only not commended, but was condemned. It seems unjust. He didn’t steal money or squander it. His only crime was burying the money in the ground. For this he was stripped of everything and cast into utter darkness.
Do I have a gift that maybe I’ve kept to myself out of fear or apprehension that I could develop and share? To those who have been given more, more is expected. We have all been given something. What are we doing with that gift?
Love, Peace, Joy