Our gospel scripture tells the story of three servants and what they did with the money their Master entrusted to them.
The Master in the parable who is about to go on a journey indicates that he has great confidence in each of his three servants. He gives each of them in the currency of the time a significant amount of money. He was sensitive to their varying abilities and distributed financial responsibility accordingly. The Master departs on his journey and when he returns he wants to settle accounts with his three servants. The first two show that during his absence they have been very industrious. They have doubled the amount that was given to them. It’s the behaviour of the third servant who is the focus of the parable. His behaviour throws light on just what it means to be prepared. He begins by excusing himself by saying that he was scared and intimidated by the demanding character of the Master. It’s an attempt at self-justification. But the Master turns his excuse against the unproductive should have worked and strived to do something with the money. And the Master ends by calling him wicked and worthless, lazy and useless. Then the Master takes the talent that was originally given to him. Now the servant has nothing and is thrown out of the household.
Whenever I look around I see many talents and gifts, every one of us has been gifted by God. Wherever you go humans are gifted people with an extraordinary variety of talents. The talents can be found in any aspect of life; academic talents, sports talents, musical talents, artistic talents, language talents, design talents, monetary talents, the list goes on and on. The gospel parable tells us that we are to use the talents that we’ve been given, we are to be industrious and generous with them. The third servant did nothing with what he’d been given because he was enslaved by fear, he saw his Master as a harsh and calculating man. There can be a trap for us church going and religious folk. We can create an image and idea of God that makes him exaacting and fearful. Living with an unhealthy fear of God will cripple us. The God of Jesus Christ is a God of love and mercy and compassion, a God who wants us to be free to grow into the very best human that we can be. He allows us to make mistakes so that we can develop the talents and gifts that he’s given to us. If we are to be faithful to God and use his gifts, we must be willing to take risks.
The third servant wouldn’t or couldn’t take a risk and he was condemned. Remember the name of the game of life is risk. If you do not take risks for God, you cannot grow in God.
Monsignor Paul Farmer
St Benedict’s, Newton.