Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV)
Verse 14"For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; Verse 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Verse 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. Verse 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. Verse 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. Verse 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Verse 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' Verse 21His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Verse 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' Verse 23His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Verse 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; Verse 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' Verse 26But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Verse 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. Verse 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. Verse 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. Verse 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
As noted yesterday, Matthew’s unique Parable of the Talents reinforces the message of a responsible disciple waiting for the return of the master. Familiar to us is how the first two servants make responsible use of their talents and are rewarded with words of joy on the master’s return. Noteworthy, however, is how the third servant turns his inactivity into an accusation about the character of the master, whom he regards not as gracious but as one who is harsh and reaps where he does not sow.
This emphasis on the image of the “master” in the servants’ contrasting responses invites our reflection on how we in our own communities will regard living in this time of waiting. Will we wait in confidence that leads to responsible and imaginative use of the master’s gracious resources, or will we wait in fear and dread of a harsh master, with a careful and non-risk-taking existence that simply hoards what we see as a puny trust?
Gracious God, help us to live in these days of the meantime of our waiting, in confident thanksgiving for the gifts that you have provided for responsible engagement as agents of your kingdom of justice and peace among us. Amen.