In today’s Gospel we have available to us the same parable as The Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30, though the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins from Luke 19:11-28 has some differences. A key opening point is that in Matthew’s account, we do not know why or where the master goes after entrusting three of his servants with talents; five, two, and one respectively. In Luke’s account the man is a noble and he “went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return” (Lk 19:12). He called ten servants to invest a gold coin he gave each of them. The theme is the similar in both accounts in that when the man returns, two of the servants have invested well and brought about a greater return on their investment for their master, and one hid what he was given out of fear.
Another added feature in Luke’s account was that there were fellow citizens of the nobleman that did not want the man to be king and openly opposed him. The nobleman after attaining his kingship and returning successfully, dealt harshly, to say the least with those who opposed him, having them slain. Those listening to the parable would understand this outcome, as it was not uncommon in the ancient Near East for a ruler to slay those who would oppose his rise.
The readings over this week continue in this vein of eschatological talk, references to the second coming of Jesus because we are in the final two weeks of the liturgical year. Each of the readings present us with the reality that there will be a judgment by God, but what Jesus makes clear is that we are not the judge and jury, though many appropriate this role for themselves. We are only accountable to the talent or gold coin we have been entrusted with.
We’ve got talent. But we can’t just sit on it.
There is a unique gift that God has given each of us, and we are called by the Lord to put this gift into action so to be a part of building up the kingdom of God. We need to resist burying this gift or rapping it in a handkerchief and hiding it away. Doubts, fears, and anxieties will arise in our hearts and minds. We may say to ourselves, “I don’t even know where to begin.” One place to begin is in prayer with the one who calls us to this work of encounter, solidarity, and accompaniment.
How we respond will be different for each one of us. May we ask God for his guidance regarding how best we can serve him, and may we seek the love of the Holy Spirit this day, that in the words of Pope Francis we may: “Have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste. Encountering and welcoming everyone, [building] solidarity – a word that is being hidden by this culture, as if it were a bad word – solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human” (Pope Francis 2014, 61).
Photo: An icon of prayer for discernment in solidarity and fraternity
Francis, Pope. The Church of Mercy: A Vision For the Church. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2014.