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Parable of the Talents

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God Given Gifts in Service of God

A rich man is leaving on a journey to another country and gives each of his slaves an amount of money, talents. Doing business with borrowed capital was commonplace in the Middle East during Jesus’ time, however it was only possible for free persons. In this parable were are dealing explicitly with slaves. This parable assumes that the slaves were to do business with their master’s money with the clear understanding that both the money and the profit belonged to the slave owner. Roman law designated the money given to slaves for this purpose as peculium.
Now bear in mind that the best way to make money quickly in antiquity was dealing in commodities or speculating land.
Now the one slave who went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his masters money treated the sum of money entrusted to him as a fixed deposit. He guards it, and in rabbinic sources burying money is praised as a safe way to preserve things. This slave is the only one whose understanding of the assignment differed from the others.
When the slave owner returns, he praises the two who were successful in their business dealings and gives them greater responsibility.
Now the third slave approaches and claims that he knows his master is a harsh man and that he was afraid. So he gives his slave owner what he had hidden, the original amount of talent.
The slave owner neither confirms nor denies the third slaves accusations and simply reiterates the slaves accusations.
The New Revised Standard Version The Parable of the Talents

26 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? 27 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.

The slave owner is angry at the slaves accusations, takes the talent and gives it to the other two slaves.
The slave owner is angry at the slaves accusations, takes the talent and gives it to the other two slaves.
The New Revised Standard Version The Parable of the Talents

29 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. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary vi. The Parable of the Talents (25:14–30)

The theme of ‘being ready’, which dominated the last section, is still at the centre of this parable, which again portrays a ‘coming’ and its consequences for those who should have been preparing for it. But this parable takes up the question which that of the bridesmaids left unanswered: what is ‘readiness’? It is not a matter of passively ‘waiting’, but of responsible activity, producing results which the coming ‘master’ can see and approve. For the period of waiting was not intended to be an empty, meaningless ‘delay’, but a period of opportunity to put to good use the ‘talents’ entrusted to his ‘slaves’.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew (A. Jones)

Our Lord had said, 24:45, that the true servant must be faithful and prudent.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew (A. Jones)

The parable of the Talents illustrates the faithfulness required of each Christian in the administration of goods committed to him by the Master

In the fourteenth century, Dante goes a step further in his condemnation of those who live life with neither blame nor praise. These souls are imprisoned in hell’s vestibule, where they are caught in a rushing, whirling wind chasing a banner that never “takes a stand.” “These wretches, who had never truly lived, went naked, and were stung and stung again by the hornets and the wasps that circled them and made their faces run with blood in streaks; their blood, mixed with their tears, dripped to their feet, and disgusting maggots collected in the pus” (Inferno 3:64–69).

Dante has been known to be a little excessive in his descriptions of hell and so that is quite a vivid and unpleasant way in Dante’s Inferno in illustrating the main point here: To take the easy road, to be lukewarm, to never take a stand really is not to live at all. The one who buries their treasures will never gain anything. The one who is neither hot nor cold really has no temperature at all. Only the one who does nothing with his or her life can avoid all blame or praise.
Life presents us with many opportunities for fear. Home and work stressors, global threats they all compound and can cause us to feel hopeless and immobile. There are those who promote hate (cold), there are those who take no action (lukewarm) and there are those who take a stand for what is right.
Dante has been known to be a little excessive in his descriptions of hell and so that is quite a vivid and unpleasant way in Dante’s Inferno in illustrating the main point here: To take the easy road, to be lukewarm, to never take a stand really is not to live at all. The one who buries their treasures will never gain anything. The one who is neither hot nor cold really has no temperature at all. Only the one who does nothing with his or her life can avoid all blame or praise.
God has provided all of us with gifts, gifts we can use to ignite change on global scales, to fuel change in a community or strengthen one soul at a time through small acts. When we see an opportunity to do good do we take it?
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