So, I’m going to speculate today. I’m no theologian or bible scholar, and while there is so much concretely packed into today’s readings, I’m going to speculate on something in the Gospel today. I know that this can throw some of you off, but bear with me.
The parable of the talents. One of my favorites.
Most people, when they read this Gospel reflect on “burying our talents”, so to speak and not using the gifts that God gave us to help others. And that is a valid theme.
But why do we do this? Look at the servant in question today, the third one. He didn’t try to make money on the money he was given, he simply buried it in the ground until his master returned. Why?
Later in the parable, when his master returns the third servant says:
“Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.”
He clearly did not like his master. How many of us have not liked a person of authority over us – a boss, or a government official, or someone else we knew because we thought they were doing things wrong and not being honest?
What if they entrusted you with something, to do something – maybe with money, or a certain task? What would you do? Or, what have you done in this situation?
On top of this, the third servant may have been jealous. He was only given one talent. The others were given five, and two, respectively. And so the third servant already had resentment towards the master, and now he felt slighted even more? Why did the others get more, perhaps he asked himself? And so perhaps he thought, “well I’m not going to do anything with the one he gave me. I will show him!”
And so, there’s another lesson here. A deeper lesson, at least in my opinion. Yes, we are to use our various gifts that God gave us. But so often we’re looking to use them doing great things! Magnificent things! Perhaps this third servant had skills above and beyond the other two, and he could have not only doubled the money given to him, but maybe increased it five or tenfold. And then his demanding master would have seen this and been so pleased that perhaps he would have given the servant unimaginable things.
But instead this servant had resentment and jealousy and then as we all know and love about this Gospel, he simply buried the money and did not use the gifts he had been given. But that is the symptom.
The real crux of this situation is why he did it?
Anger. Resentment. Jealousy. Now we’re getting somewhere. Now we can apply it to today’s world and our situations.
How often do we not do something, and not use our talents, the gifts that God has blessed us with because of the anger, resentment, or jealousy that is in our hearts? How many times do we say:
Well, I’m not going to help my co-worker because he just got a raise and a promotion that I deserved, even if I can really help him.
Or, I’m not going to do something my boss asked, because they are simply mean!
And lastly, and strap on your seatbelts for this one, I don’t like this [INSERT GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL NAME HERE] And so rather than step up to use my gifts to make a difference in society, to foster change, to bring awareness in whatever way that is, I’m simply going to complain and rant and attack the very negativity I hate with negativity!
Or even in our daily correspondence, rather than engage in positive dialog and debate we criticize and attack because it doesn’t go along with our way of thinking, how we think things should be.
How many times do we hear this? How many times do we say this? Yes, so often we bury our talents and don’t use the gifts we’ve been given. But the bottom line is really that so often we only want to use those gifts for great things, for great recognition, and so often when we don’t because of anger, resentment, or jealousy, or perhaps fear. Perhaps fear transcends all of those.
How many times do we get angry at our Master – God – because he appears to give some people more, who we maybe think don’t deserve it, and others less, who seem to deserve it on the surface. How often do we have resentment towards Him because we feel He has given us less? How often do we lash out at God out of anger because of our circumstances in life, rather than reach up to Him to help us?
So often God gives us His love through the gifts He gives us, through those little, barely recognizable opportunities, and frequently because of pride and resentment we do nothing and simply say to Him, ‘You can have Your Love back… I didn’t want to cultivate it. I didn’t want to grow it. Here, you can have it back.’
Now we’re getting somewhere…
Search your thoughts and feelings – we’ve all thought this. I know I’ve felt this way at times, and not done things nor used my gifts because of this mindset. I know I’m not alone.
We’ve got to address the deep-down issues within us – and look at the why – and let Christ into our soul to transform us and root out these weeds if we ever truly want to be able to use the gifts that God gave us to truly make a difference in the world and people’s lives.
We know what to do. The answer is to make the best with what we’ve got, and the opportunities we have been given, great or small. Regardless who is in authority, we set our feelings aside and do the right thing, because deep down, we have integrity, because if we use our gifts in any situation, something good for God will always come from it.
And then you know what? We can increase the good that God has given us by five or tenfold, and though He is demanding, He will reward us with unimaginable gifts forever, in Heaven.
That is our true reward, and that is our true purpose.