Today’s parable, the parable of the talents, seems to be a commentary on financial management. Timely, to say the least. Well, not really. The parable might seem to be about investments, but it really isn’t. It comes from the section of the Gospel of Matthew found just before the presentation of the Paschal Mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. This section of Matthew speaks about the end of the world, and the final coming of the Son of Man. Parables of watchfulness are presented. One is about servants who are ready or not ready for the Master’s return. A second has the same message conveyed by the five wise and five foolish virgins. Today’s parable answers the question: What then should we do to be prepared for our Lord? The answer is: Develop the Grace, the Gifts that God has given you.
This parable can certainly be seen on the level of using our talents for the Glory of God. There is a wonderful story about Ludwig van Beethoven in this regard. The famous composer was well aware that he had few social skills. He found talking to people not just burdensome, but beyond his abilities. He just couldn’t do it, even if he had to speak to someone. The story is that one day he heard that a dear friend of his had suddenly lost his son. Beethoven rushed over to his friend’s house, but he just couldn’t find the words to express his grief to the dead boy’s father. So he used the gifts he had been given. Beethoven went to the piano and for a full thirty minutes he played a beautiful and consoling elegy. It is believed that he composed it on the spot. He used his talent to console the grieving.
I always feel elated when I see our young people developing the gifts they have been given. None of us should feel threatened by the gifts of others. Only a really bad teacher is intimidated by his or her students. We want them to do well, because whether it is through arts, or intellect, or sports, or what have you, they are participating in the recreation of the world into a reflection of God.
Today’s parable, also has a deeper level. It doesn’t just answer the question: What should we do to prepare for the Lord? it also asks: Who is it that will share in the Master’s joy? Who should enter the Parousia? The answer is: Those who are doing the work of the Master. St. Paul came upon the phenomenon of Christians not working for the Kingdom. They were so convinced that the end of the world was upon them, that they just sat back and did nothing, waiting for the end. “No,” said St. Paul. “He who does not work should not eat,” he was referring both to daily physical work as well as working for the kingdom and eating the Bread of Life.
Many parishes use this Sunday as an opportunity to remind people of their financial responsibilities to the parish and the Church. I haven’t done this and won’t because we all have an infinitely deeper responsibility. We have a responsibility to Jesus Christ to take the Life that He has given us, treasure it, develop it and set the world on fire with His Love.
We all have many diverse gifts, but no gift is greater than the Gift who is Our Lord. God has given us this Awesome Gift, this Awesome Savior, not for ourselves but for others.
May we have the courage to be Christian.