|St Christopher's, Lit. 2012, jfd+|
Matthew provides us today with Jesus' description of the Kingdom in the account of the 5-2-1 talents given by a departing landowner to three slaves. Putting aside the offensiveness that the word "slave" can cause, this is a fascinating and thought-provoking story.
Upon the owner's return, "after a long time," the slaves are summoned. The first to speak, the one given 5 talents, has doubled their value and the owner is pleased. The second slave, having been given 2 talents, also doubled what had been given, again pleasing the owner. The last, having been given one, returned exactly what had been given. The owner is not well pleased.
This last slave says that the owner is known as harsh, taking things not personally owned (a thief, perhaps?), doing things with the possessions of others, all of which makes this third slave fearful. The talent was buried in the ground, un-used, un-utilized to be returned as it had been given.
This owner in this parable is thought of by most interpreters as God. One of the ways this story can be understood, is that this third person, who did not utilize the talent given, had the wrong understanding of God. Thinking of God as a harsh and cruel thief, using and abusing creation is the wrong way to consider how God operates in the world. There is a lack of joy, understanding, compassion and self-awareness in this last person's understanding of the gifts given. They aren't for personal use. They aren't to be hidden, buried. The gifts we are given can and will multiply by our using them to create the Kingdom Christ opens for all of us. They will also make us understand, and be a more integral part of, that Kingdom, helping us to focus on truly understanding what it means to be good and trustworthy.
This individual who refused to use, share, develop the gifts, the talent, freely given, mis-perceived the nature of that gift, and the one who gave it. Wicked thoughts, slanderous motives, selfish desires are no where in God's plan for this Kingdom. We are directed by this story of the 5-2-1 talents given to be actively engaged in using and sharing all our gifts and talents and abilities that have been freely and lovingly given to us.
That sharing is why we have been gifted them.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.