Talents: a distrubing story

Talents4The Third Servant. 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Continue reading

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Talents: doing what?

Talents2In what does readiness consist? Keep in mind that in our parable, the servants are not surprised at their master’s coming, so “readiness” is more attuned to whether the servants will be dependable in the use of the resources. We should note that the master entrusted his resources to the servants according to their individual abilities (25:15). The third one received only one talent, likely indicating that the master understands that he has less ability than the others. The master does not overburden the third servant who nonetheless fails – not in any loss of money, but in returning it without increase. It was not that he did something wrong—he simply did nothing. This is, then, apparently, a parable about maximizing opportunities, not wasting them. To be “ready” for the master’s return means to use the intervening time to “maximum gain”; it is again about continuing life and work rather than about calculating the date and being alert for his actual arrival. Continue reading

Talents: readiness

Talents5Commentary – The preceding parables have been about readiness, and this one is particularly about faithful stewardship which readiness produces. The third in the series of parables about being ready returns to a setting similar to that of the first, a master dealing with his servants. But this time there is a more specific focus on their commercial responsibility in their master’s absence. Each is left with a very large sum of money, with no instructions on what to do with it, and the story turns on their different ways of exercising this responsibility. There is again a division between good and bad, between success and failure. Yet the “failure” of the last servant consists not in any loss of money, but in returning it without increase. It was not that he did something wrong—he simply did nothing. This is, then, apparently, a parable about maximizing opportunities, not wasting them. To be “ready” for the master’s return means to use the intervening time to maximum gain; it is again about continuing life and work rather than about calculating the date and being alert for his actual arrival. This third parable is thus essentially making the same point about readiness as the two preceding ones (Mt 24:45-51 and Mt 25:1-13). Continue reading

Talents: context

Talents1Matthew 25:14–30 14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 22 (Then) the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Continue reading

Parable of the Talents: a distrubing story

Talents4The Third Servant. 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Continue reading

Ready and doing…what?

Talents2In what does readiness consist? Keep in mind that in our parable, the servants are not surprised at their master’s coming, so “readiness” is more attuned to whether the servants will be dependable in the use of the resources. We should note that the master entrusted his resources to the servants according to their individual abilities (25:15). The third one received only one talent, likely indicating that the master understands that he has less ability than the others. The master does not overburden the third servant who nonetheless fails – not in any loss of money, but in returning it without increase. It was not that he did something wrong—he simply did nothing. This is, then, apparently, a parable about maximizing opportunities, not wasting them. To be “ready” for the master’s return means to use the intervening time to “maximum gain”; it is again about continuing life and work rather than about calculating the date and being alert for his actual arrival. Continue reading

Readiness

Talents5Commentary – The preceding parables have been about readiness, and this one is particularly about faithful stewardship which readiness produces. The third in the series of parables about being ready returns to a setting similar to that of the first, a master dealing with his servants. But this time there is a more specific focus on their commercial responsibility in their master’s absence. Each is left with a very large sum of money, with no instructions on what to do with it, and the story turns on their different ways of exercising this responsibility. There is again a division between good and bad, between success and failure. Yet the “failure” of the last servant consists not in any loss of money, but in returning it without increase. It was not that he did something wrong—he simply did nothing. This is, then, apparently, a parable about maximizing opportunities, not wasting them. To be “ready” for the master’s return means to use the intervening time to maximum gain; it is again about continuing life and work rather than about calculating the date and being alert for his actual arrival. This third parable is thus essentially making the same point about readiness as the two preceding ones (Mt 24:45-51 and Mt 25:1-13). Continue reading

The Parable of the Talents

Talents1Matthew 25:14–30 14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 22 (Then) the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Continue reading

Finishing the Race

tn_race-titleJesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”  Well, I sure hope this parable isn’t addressed to me.  It is just a story, a parable, right?

But then stories and parables invite us to identify with characters – even if we don’t get a lot of choices here. We can be the Pharisee, but then it’s pretty clear that’s not a great choice.  You can almost hear the hubris, the pride, and the scorn in his prayer: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.”

I suspect most of us would favor the tax collector.  He seems to be the epitome of humility, is sincere, prayerful, and a model of conversion and penitence. Continue reading

Pharisee and Tax Collector – A Parable

Pharisee-n-Tax Collector3Luke 18:9-14. 9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

A parable of reversal or right relationship? Continue reading