Day 241 | Sunday, 15 November 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for this the 24th Sunday after Pentecost are: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123 or 76; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and Matthew 25:14-30.
Matthew 25:14-30 from The Message
14 "It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. 15 To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. 16 Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. 17 The second did the same. 18 But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money. 19 "After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them.
20 The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment.
21 His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' 22 "The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. 23 His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' 24 "The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error.
25 I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.' 26 "The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? 27 The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. 28 29 "'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. 30 Throw him out into utter darkness.'”
This is one of the hard ones, one of what are called the hard sayings of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but during my darker moments anyway, when I hear this parable, or the variation on it in Luke, I tend at first to identify with the slave who receives the one talent — at least, up to the point where he buries the talent in the ground. No, I am definitely not some Five-Talent player, or even a Two-Talent Trendsetter. I cannot with any honesty say that my investments have doubled — not through any shrewdness on my part, anyway.
No, I am not confessing that I have “buried my talent” — or my half-talent or quarter-talent, whatever the case may be. I have used it, made my half-baked attempts at investing it. But if the “Master” who gave me the talent were to return tomorrow and demand an accounting, I would probably have to say something like, “Well ... Here’s your talent — half-talent, quarter-talent, whatever. Yes, I used it, I ‘invested’ it. But it certainly didn’t double in value on my watch. I don’t know that it did any meaningful, measurable good at all. But here it is! I’ve still got it — a little dented, a bit scraped — you know, used looking. But I’ve still got it. You want it back? Maybe you want to give it to the go-getter with the five talents — the one who started out with a church with a membership consisting of a homeless family, a retired postal worker and a three-legged cocker spaniel, and under that pastor’s wise, principled, radical, passionate and excellent tutelage, it has grown so that now worship attendance averages half the population west of the Mississippi River.”
Yes, in those darker moments I do wonder, too, what the Master might have to say to that!
What are we doing with what we’ve got? Is there more and better use that we can make of what we do have? How can we use our talents with an eye toward making our one, two, our two, four, our five, 10? How can we put what we’ve got to use, making the kingdom that we hope for and expect come alive, in some small way, in front of the eyes of all who pass by?
Lord, thank you for the talents you have given us to use wisely. Hear our prayer. Amen