Talents. Metaphorical or Literal?

Here in November, as we approach the end of the season of Pentecost and with it the end of another church year, our weekly Gospel texts have become quite apocalyptic in nature. Jesus talks with his followers about the end times, affirming that at some unknown point in the future, it will occur. Jesus will come back…the kicker is that no one short of the Father himself knows when this will be. And so, Jesus stresses the importance of living out our day to lives reflecting the truth that at any moment, it will be time. It may happen 5 minutes from now, or it may happen a millennia from now. Despite this, often times maddening unknown, Jesus stresses that we know the truth and we are called to live in a way that reflects that.

This week’s Gospel found in Matthew 25:14-30, fits right into this same theme, as we hear the parable of the three servants, each given talents as their master departs on a journey. One receives 5, one 2, and the final a single talent. The first two servants immediately put the talents to work, and by the time the master returns, they have doubled their investments. But the final servant, worrying about the Masters ability to be a harsh judge, simply hides the single talent until such time as he can return it, along with some harsh words based on his perception of the master himself. It does not end well for this final servant.

This passage, partnered up with last week’s gospel lesson of the 10 bridesmaids, 5 of whom eventually find out that the door into the celebration is shut, as well as next week’s lesson of the eventual separation of the sheep from the goats, paints a tough picture. The reality that Jesus implores us to recognize is that there WILL be a time when the door is shut (10 bridesmaids) and you’ve been entrusted with this amazingly valuable gift (the gospel) so what are you going to do with it? Its not about earning your salvation…its about sharing what you’ve been given…not storing it away. It seems to be, once again, how you live your life today in a way that reflects that Jesus could come back in 5 minutes.

Some may find a connection between this train of thought and the notion of stewardship. While stewardship can, and often does get associated with money, its more important to consider that stewardship is all encompassing. How do we honor God with all that He has given us? And perhaps this is fitting for us today as we begin to look forward at the upcoming year. How is God calling us as a congregation, as a community of believers, to act with the gifts we’ve been given?

A talent was the equivalent of 15 years worth of wages for a day laborer in Jesus’ time…so in short, it was of great value. Perhaps this gospel lesson speaks of talents as our Spiritual Gifts (the most common interpretation). But I tend to think of the talent being the Gospel itself…something of far greater value than simple wages. If this is, in fact the case, then it seems as if Jesus is telling us that today, right now, we need to live in a way that reflects the life-shattering difference that the gospel makes in our lives. No longer are we called to live in the darkness, but rather to bear witness to the amazing light that is Christ himself. And as the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Let us keep this in mind as we continue to do the work entrusted to us by God until the day when we see our Maker face to face.

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