“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” (Matthew 25:21,23)
These are the words as followers of Christ that we all long to hear. When I read the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), I want to be one of the two servants who have been faithful servants. I don’t want to overlook the deeper meaning of Jesus’ teaching and I certainly don’t want to end up in darkness rather than light.
The English word “talent” means both a coin and a power or ability. In our capitalistic culture, it’s easy to get side-tracked and interpret it only as the master giving the servant an amount of wealth to multiply or even a special gift to use and grow for the master.
The problem with the timid servant is not that he was an ineffective money manager but that he fundamentally misunderstood the nature of what he had been given.
Pope Francis elaborates on the meaning of the different talents entrusted to each of us:
“We possess a great wealth that depends not on what we possess but on what we are: the life we have received, the good within us, the indelible beauty God has given us by making us in His image.”
God gives each of us His divine mercy and love as a pure gift. And divine mercy and love will grow in us only in as much as we give it to others as a pure gift. The amazing thing is that God trusts us, despite our weaknesses, to put to good use what we have received.
Pope Francis goes on to share the core message of the parable: Service. Unless we share the mercy, the goodness, and the truth we have received from God, our talents will not bear fruit. He tells us:
“Those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life.”
The difference between the first two servants and the third servant was that the first two servants stepped out in their faith in service. They were not fearful, they did not cling to what they had been given, but they shared God’s gifts with others, multiplying them. The timid servant held on tightly to God’s gifts as his own possession, buried in the ground, keeping God’s mercy, grace, and beauty to himself. In other words, the timid servant “played it safe.”
Pope Francis observes that four times the servants who invested their talents, who took a risk, are called “faithful” (verses 21,23) and that for the Gospel, faithfulness is never risk-free.
“Fidelity to God means handing over our life, letting our carefully laid plans be disrupted by our need to serve.”
St. John Chrysostom, a great Father of the Church wrote:
“As for this life, when death comes and the theatre is deserted, when all remove their masks of wealth or of poverty and depart hence, judged only by their works, they will be seen for what they are: some truly rich, others poor.”
Let us ask for the grace to bear fruit, to take risks in our faith to use God’s gifts for others, and to learn to live to serve. Amen!
Debbie Garza is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Leon Springs, and is an experienced Pilgrimage Group Leader with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She has traveled with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land, Italy, and Greece. She says, “On pilgrimage, I know the ears and eyes of my heart have been opened by God’s grace and I’ve experienced the Joy of the Gospel. I am committed to helping other pilgrims experience their personal journey of faith.” Debra is also a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.