The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 19, 2023 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 25:14-30
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Today’s gospel is one that most are familiar with. It’s about money management. The money involved is called “talents” which was a form of currency in the time of Jesus. A wealthy person decided to give his servants a portion of talents for them to use while he was away. We easily interpret this parable as God giving each of us talents – or abilities – to use during our lives. The amount given to each is not the same. Some receive more than others.
Upon his return, the rich man wanted to learn what his servants did with what he gave them. The one who received the most doubled his allotment, and another who received a bit less did the same. But the servant who received the least, buried his talent, as the gospel notes, “out of fear.” He did not want to take chances. He wanted to play it safe.
Not being much of a gambler myself, I still know what it is like to take chances. For instance, I “invested” a good part of my early life earning an education in the hope that I would someday become a university professor. It worked. My wife and I were blessed with a sizable family who have given us many blessings along the way, but also a few sleepless nights. We pulled up stakes at least four times to move from one part of the country to live in a different place where we hoped our children would have a better environment for their lives. All these decisions involved an investment of our “talents” into something that might be better. Or might not.
Many people can tell similar stories of taking risks in the hope of finding something better for themselves, their families, or for humanity in general. And this often involves trusting in God’s support in no small way. There were no certainties of success, but taking a risk seemed worth it. And the decisions to risk were often accompanied by some very serious prayers. Perhaps the most serious we ever said.
There is also a daily version of this wonderful parable of Jesus. Each day we come into situations where we can take a chance for the good, or back off and “play it safe.” We pass a stranger on a walk who appears worried or distressed. We see a neighbor in need of a helping hand. We sense a spouse, or one of our children (young or old), who need a call, a listening ear or a supportive presence. There are countless times when we might invest our talents (or even a few dollars) in the service of others. As Ignatian spirituality reminds us, we are to be “for others.” In other words, invest some of ourselves, our talents, for them.
David M. Thomas, PhD