Homily preached at Winmalee by Br Simeon on Sunday 16th November 2014:
23rd Sunday after Pentecost year A.
Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30
In today’s gospel we heard the parable of the talents. Which on the surface seems a little harsh. We all know, if not worked for, people like the master. I must admit I have some sympathy for the slave who simply hid the money and returned it. Of course that slave is the one who did not use the talent he was given and so his reward is appropriate, albeit harsh.
What is Jesus trying to tell us here? That we should go out and invest what money we have and make more? That sounds like it might be wavering into the prosperity preaching. No I don’t think Jesus is talking about money. True the word talent in the biblical sense means a measure of weight.
Roughly the weight of the amount of liquid it took to fill an amphora. And yes I suppose we could look at the parable in that sense. But we can also move beyond such a literal use of the word into one where we understand the word in the sense of gift. And if we use this sense, then the parable has a whole different purpose.
The master has given his slaves gifts that they are to use in the growing the masters domain. We are not told what the gifts are, just that different slaves have different ones. The master has an expectation that they will use those gifts to the best of their ability and create growth. Two of the three do this, the third does not.
The master doesn’t expect anymore, than what he believes each slave is capable of, but he does expect some sort of return. Which is why the slave who simply hid his gift, and did not use it, is treated with such disdain. Now so far I’ve been careful not to draw us into the parable, but that’s about to change! And I strongly suspect you all knew it was coming.
We have all been given gifts. We all have different abilities and strengths. Some of us are very good at things that others couldn’t even start to do. The best example perhaps is an artist, some people have the gift of drawing, while others no matter how hard they might like to have the gift, simply don’t.
But having the gift is only the first part of the equation. The gift has to be used in order to be developed and to be of benefit to the person and others. If the artist doesn’t draw, then the art that they could create remains hidden, buried, and underutilised. Sound familiar?
So what is the gift you have? Are you using it or is it hidden away were no one can see it. of course some people have great difficulty in understanding what their gifts are. They are so blinded by those of the others, or in their own fears that they lose sight of the precious thing they have been given. Remember what the third slave said “I was afraid so I went had hid your talent in the ground”. I suspect that slave had a severe lack of self-confidence.
Yes it is easy to give into the fear of: “No I can’t do that”, but this will not see the gift grow. We need to be like the other 2 slaves. Take our gifts, gird up our loins and use the gifts to the enrichment of the gospel and for ourselves. And when we do this, who knows what we could and would achieve.
When God says to you, so tell me my child, what use did you make of the gifts I gave you? I know what I’d like my reply to be. Do you what yours would be?