The first two servants reported 100% profit on the money.
One silver talent is worth $ 28,362 today.
‘Talent’ and ‘ability’ and all that God entrusted to us is the meaning of talent in the parable.
Trade with your muscles and you gain physical strength, with your mind and you gain keen intelligence, with your influence and you gain friends, with your soul and you gain spiritual victories. The law is rigorous and applies everywhere. Invest gifts and they become further capital—enclose them and they wither and die. Whatever be our talents they must be invested for the service of God to man. Only so can the uses become greater.1
In fact, vestment, vest, divest and invest all come from the Latin word for clothes. E.g., If you bought clothes for someone needy like our Second Reading says, “[A worthy wife is to be valued far beyond pearls, [she] reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy,” by clothing them you would «invest» them. It would be an “investment” and that poor person would now be fully “vested.”
The third servant was called “wicked and lazy; he was unwilling to put out the spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological energy of doing something to develop what he had been given, making a fear-based decision to bury his money in the ground.
The tenuous political conditions that prevailed at the time of Christ prompted people to bury their valueables for safekeeping to retrieve it at some time in the future. However, nothing is self-originated. God had given him one talent to invest.
Maybe that servant thought, “Well, my one little vote won’t make any difference.”
Richard Baxter wrote, «Waste of time is the first and in principle the deadliest of sins. Loss of time through sociability, idle talking, luxury, more sleep than is necessary…is worthy of absolute moral condemnation. Every hour lost is lost to labor for God. . .. Work hard in your calling. While that may strike us as a tad excessive, it is taking seriously the exhortation of Ecclesiastes 9:10, «Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.”2
You can teach an old dog new tricks. But learning and change often elicit feelings of fear that is manifested in two different ways. One is “I can’t change,” which is a passivity and doubt about capacity to change. The second is an insecurity about a capacity to change. An avoidance or maybe an overestimation of what I am capable of which sounds a little fear-based or I don’t need to change: what I am doing is working just fine (also fear-based). Taking risks for God we hear is really about sharing your master’s joy.
But when we focus on skill building, we are creating competence and confidence on the skills we need to move forward toward the change. Example of conflict avoidant people- practice skills for assertiveness. Skill building is key to overcoming a sense of helplessness.
If we don’t use our talents because we give-in to our one-talent circumstances and use it as an excuse to be unfaithful and negligent to opportunities from God to expand His Kingdom, He will give those opportunities to someone else.
Matthew 25:19, from our Gospel today says, «After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.”
This is the judgment when we die, and also Christ’s second coming. There is a degree of realized eschatology and it’s apocalyptic because the last days, when the judgment described in the parable begins, has already been initiated.
1. Frederic C. Spurr, The Capital and Labor of Life, Review & Expositor, January 1, 1926
2. John B. Carpenter, Missiology, January 1, 1997