The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (25:14-30, + Luke 8:8)
In today’s gospel reading we hear the familiar parable of the talents. In this passage it seems that the talents are a type of money or currency that is distributed to each of the servants by the master of the estate. However we should understand that this parable is about much more than how we invest our money. The parable of the talents is about how we invest all of our God given gifts and the fruits that result from those gifts. There is a question of what we do with the original gifts that are given to us. How do we use them? Do we increase them? Do we reinvest them? We might say that this parable is all about the economy of the kingdom.
Perhaps we understand the talents as gifts of the Holy Spirit. What do we do with such gifts? Some have the gift of empathy and listening. Others have the gift of prophecy. Some have the gift of healing. Others have the gifts of teaching or preaching. Some have the gift of hospitality and yet others the gift of service. Still others have material wealth as a gift. Some have a real gift for prayer on behalf of others. Everyone has a gift and sometimes more than one gift. As I said last week, everyone has a ministry in their life and in the life of the church. Most of those ministries are not out front, but hidden from plain view, and that’s ok. But it is important that we exercise and utilize those gifts out of love for God and others.
We can sometimes hide those gifts from the sight of others, but we better not hide our gifts away and neglect to use them. St. Gregory the great writes about the servant who buried his talent and this is what he says “Hiding a talent in the earth means employing one’s abilities in earthly affairs, failing to seek spiritual profit, never raising one’s heart from earthly thoughts. There are some who have received the gift of understanding but have a taste only for things that pertain to the body. The prophet says of them, “They are wise in doing evil, but they do not know how to do good.” -Gregory the Great: [Jer 4:22.] Forty Gospel Homilies 9.1
The point that we have to remember is that the talents, the resources, the gifts that we have are not actually ours. In fact, we understand that even our life doesn’t belong to us. St. Paul writes “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor 6:19-20 This applies not only to our bodies since we were dedicated to Christ in baptism, but to all that He gives us. When we live with this framework, we find that everything makes sense and that we no longer live for ourselves, but rather, for our Lord and master. I often encourage you to make prayer one of the first things that you do upon waking in the morning. Why? Because this act helps us to clearly remember that the day belongs to God, rather, that our life belongs to God.
How we start our day has a powerful effect on the rest of our routine and mindset. The mindset that we are after is the same one found in a beautiful prayer that we will soon begin to recite together since Lent is drawing near. “O Lord and Master of my life…” If Christ is indeed the master of our lives, we will offer everything up to Him. We will offer all of it, both good and bad. We will offer our pain and suffering, our anxiety and anguish. We will offer our joys and victories. We will offer up our worst moments and our best triumphs. We will offer up our minds and hearts and all of our works. We will offer up our talents as well as our many failings and frailties. We offer it all to God who desires to perfect us and to see us reach new heights as the pinnacle of His creation. We offer it with faith and hope that Christ will offer us much more than we can ever imagine.
Finally, I want to leave you with thoughts from St. Theophan the Recluse, who writes,
“The parable about the talents offers the thought that life is a time for trading. That means that it is necessary to hasten to use this time as a person would hurry to a market to bargain for what he can…No one who has received life from the Lord can say that he does not have a single talent—everyone has something, and not just one thing; everyone, therefore, has something with which to trade and make a profit. Do not look around and calculate what others have received, but take a good look at yourself and determine more precisely what lies in you and what you can gain for that which you have, and then act according to this plan without laziness. At the Judgment you will not be asked why you did not gain ten talents if you had only one, and you will not even be asked why you gained only one talent on your one, but you will be told that you gained a talent, half a talent or a tenth of its worth. And the reward will not be because you received the talents, but because you gained.” + St. Theophan the Recluse
May we work through God’s grace to offer back abundant fruit and to share of this fruit with others to the glory of God, the lover of mankind. AMEN.