“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come and share in your master’s joy.” (Matthew 14:21)
This Sunday’s reading is a familiar parable about a master who entrusts his servants with talents, each according to his ability, while he goes on a journey. One talent alone was considerable wealth.
In the parable, the servants who are given a great amount take risks and increase their wealth. The servant who is only given one talent is too afraid to do anything but bury it. When the master returns, the servants who increased their talents are rewarded, while the one who did not is deprived of his one talent and thrown into the “outer darkness.”
Because it is noted that the master gives talents to each servant “according to his ability,” this passage is often equated with the gifts given to us by God. This time reading the passage, however, I began to think of my “talents” as anything given to me by God, whether it is talent, work, or wealth. In fact, everything I have was given by God, so if I follow the logic of the parable, I am expected to increase it for God’s glory.
Reading into the passage even further, “the man going on a journey” represents Jesus, who we expect to return. The talents that He left us may very well be our gifts or charisms given to us through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus also left us his mission. He expects that we will go forth to multiply the mission: heal the sick, feed the hungry, and bring the Good News.
Sometimes we may wish that we had other talents, but it’s important to use what we were given. We must take risks to do the works of the Holy Spirit, even when it seems like the risk won’t pay off. Otherwise, we are like the servant who buried his only talent in the ground. If we don’t take risks, then our talents will never multiply. But we can follow the example of the servants who went off without hesitation. They increased their talents and were rewarded by the master, who said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come and share in your master’s joy.”