33rd Sunday Ordinary Time – It’s not about Our talents – Really…
This parable of the talents doesn’t have anything to do with using our gifts, making money, getting ahead, being better, or whatever. It’s not about sharing our time, treasure, and talent with the church.
Talanton, refers to a huge amount of silver. One scholar suggested that one talent equaled 15 years of wages. So, 5 talents for a person who makes $100,000 a year (since I’m not good at math) would have received $7,500,000. Doubling that, obviously, is $15,000,000. And so on.
We came to use “talent” as a commodity we can use to get ahead. Winners on America’s Got Talent get record deals and become famous. They used their talent to become winners.
Structure: Chapter 23 Jesus delivered a bunch of parables going after the scribes & Pharisees to unmask both their hypocrisy & inner violence. He succeeded. In chapter 24, he used a bunch of apocalyptic images to convey his meaning of the end of our little worlds. Here in chapter 25, he’s speaking to the disciples.
Last week – the parable of the Wise & Foolish Bridesmaids – he warned them/us to be wise about ‘being ready & watchful.’ This week, he told the parable of the talents, them/ us to consider the effects of fear – both caution & projection of inner harshness on the Master. They’re inter-related.
All I want to say about that today is that the Bible uses a lot of motivational techniques based on “IF-THEN.” If you don’t clean your plate, you don’t get dessert. If you don’t clean your room, you’re grounded. OR If you aren’t prepared or wise with the gospel message entrusted to you, you will be cast out into the darkness, grind your teeth, and have to go to the orthodontist.
In some ways, this motivation works, especially with younger folks and aging parents. Mostly for adults, however, it elicits such resistance that one either walks away in disgust or complies grudgingly. That’s my story for sure.
Seems to me that we are invited to identify with the third character, the fearful one. I know I want to always be the successful and completely sufficient one. Yet, it’s nigh on impossible, for me, anyway, to be taught by Jesus in that state. There are moments when I’m insufficient, disappointed, weak, and/or sad that I can learn possibly from the Word. You?