Given For Others

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
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.’
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.’
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.’
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.’
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;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
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?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
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.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”
(Matthew 25:14-30)

Scripture Study

25:14 It will be as when … journey: literally, “For just as a man who was going on a journey.” Although the comparison is not completed, the sense is clear; the kingdom of heaven is like the situation here described. Faithful use of one’s gifts will lead to participation in the fullness of the kingdom, lazy inactivity to exclusion from it.

25:15 Talents: literally, “ten thousand talents.” The talent was a unit of coinage of high but varying value depending on its metal (gold, silver, copper) and its place of origin.

25:18 Buried his master’s money: In the unsettled conditions of Palestine in Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground.

25:20–23 Although the first two servants have received and doubled large sums, their faithful trading is regarded by the master as fidelity in small matters only, compared with the great responsibilities now to be given to them. The latter are unspecified. Share your master’s joy: probably the joy of the banquet of the kingdom; cf. Mt 8:11.

25:26–28 Wicked, lazy servant: this man’s inactivity is not negligible but seriously culpable. As punishment, he loses the gift he had received, that is now given to the first servant, whose possessions are already great.

25:29 In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18; 19:26), the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).

25:30 Matthew inserts into the story about the entrance of Gentiles into the kingdom and the exclusion of those Israelites who, though descended from the patriarchs and members of the chosen nation (the children of the kingdom), refused to believe in Jesus. There will be wailing and grinding of teeth: the first occurrence of a phrase used frequently in this gospel to describe final condemnation (Mt 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). It is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Lk 13:28.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the challenging parable of the talents. A man goes on a journey, but before leaving he entrusts his money to three of his servants. To one he gives five talents, to a second, two, and to a third, one.

The first man trades with the five talents. The second does the same, and both receive a rich return on their investment. The third man cautiously buries his talent. When the owner returns, he praises the first two servants and gives them greater responsibilities, but the third man he upbraids.

Jesus loved to use examples drawn from the world of business. And he especially liked this dynamic of investment as a model of the spiritual life. The reason is clear, and I’ve said it to you often. God exists in gift form. Therefore, if you want his life in you, you have to learn to give it away. Think of the talents as everything that we’ve received from God—life, breath, being, powers. Because they come from God, they are meant to become gifts. If you cling to them, in the manner of the third servant, they don’t grow; in fact, they wither away.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.