A Reflection on the Gospel reading for this Sunday – Matthew 25: 14-30
The Parable of the Talents – Warning – spoiler alerts
A Talent is a big amount of money so this parable is better called “the Parable of the Servants who were given big bags of gold”.
And it is not a “real” story. People didn’t just hand over large bags of gold to their slaves and leave them to it. This man is reckless, generous, borderline stupid to hand over such wealth, and the slaves will not have seen that sort of money before. Think rich man who hands over the keys to his Porsche and Ferraris to some sixth-formers! The story is to get us thinking!
And we are not meant to ask too many questions about the economics or how exactly the two both doubled their amount and had it ready to hand back on the master’s return.
[By the way hiding money in the ground was a way of keeping it safe when houses didn’t have secure locks, so the third slave was careful not to lose what he had.]
So the slaves are entrusted with a huge gift / responsibility – and God entrusts us with the gospel message to share, pass on, and “double”. The challenge – do we go out and share the good news, or do we find it awkward and bury it and only dig it up to hand back – “Here, this is yours, I didn’t want it; I found the responsibility too much ..”
And the story makes the point even more strongly by presenting two very different outcomes; two slaves enter into the joy of their master – we imagine them coming in and sitting down for dinner, and the third is thrown into outer darkness; he has no further place with the master or in the story.
Jesus challenged people to see that there was a decision to make about God, and he framed the challenge in bold, big, bright letters and stories. Matthew’s gospel ends with three parables of people doing stuff while the main man is away – the faithful steward who looks after the house in the master’s absence (or not), the bridesmaids who are ready for the bride-groom’s return (or not) and the slaves who either work with the gifts they are entrusted with (or not). Three times we are told stories of a main man who WILL return, even if we don’t know when, and three times we hear stories of how some respond positively and some don’t and what sort of exclusion the latter group find themselves in because they forgot the main man. We can’t say we are not being warned!
Despite covid, or even within covid, are we waiting on God, living as a faithful steward, and enjoying the gift of the gold of the gospel, or are we forgetful, ignoring and even wishing we hadn’t got it?
A big bold story with a big bold challenge. But a big, generous master who lavishly bestows great bags of gold on his slaves, as God has generously given us the truth and gift of the gospel.
Rev’d Peter Reiss: 13th Nov 2020