The parable of the talents is an extraordinary display of God entrusting us the wealth of his kingdom. The fact that the text has been placed in the 25th chapter of Matthew, towards the end of the gospel, powerfully depicts the religious conduct of a follower while awaiting the final judgment.
Talents are substantial amount of money which in this context are highly symbolic of God’s precious gifts. They are provided at our disposal for the benefit of his kingdom, with no excuses come the time of reckoning. The slaves handled it differently. Since the first two doubled it God applauded, promoted them to greater responsibilities and invited them to come share in his joy. What was commended wasn’t simply the successful outcome but the effort exerted which involved great risks.
Because a significant section has been devoted to the slothful, wicked and lazy third servant, this must have been the focus of the episode. Playing safe, out of fear of losing an extremely large sum of money may have been the right thing to do back then but doesn’t contribute (no offense taken) to the edification of the kingdom. This leads us to that if we are lukewarm and disengaged and make all the excuses in the world giving everyone the impression church’s mission is unimaginably difficult, God will make a harsh condemnation on us as never heard before. If we presume things would go well in the end without us having any part in it, God will stunningly rebuke and severely punish us for not sharing the perennial gifts of kindness, generosity, hospitality and love.
Understandably, many of us are probably left with more questions than answers such as where and how to begin. The truth is, we have everything at our disposal to start somewhere. And that there is no excuse for doing nothing at all. Everything we do in the church involves great risks of failure, limits of role, and of being misconstrued, etc. However, we can never go wrong with works of charity such as prioritizing the excluded in society. No act of kindness ends up in failure.
A week before the end of the liturgical season, shaped and fashioned by the Matthean community with a huge emphasis on the institutional church, the parable of the talents leaves us once again with an open-ended question, whether to do something with the talent or bury it. It’s up to you but if I were you, invest on it even if it’s risky or you’ll be sorry. Amen.
HOMILY ON THE 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME