In today’s Gospel, we have available to us the parallel to The Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30, which is the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins from Luke 19:11-28. There are some differences. A key opening point is that in Matthew’s account, we do not know why or where the master goes after he entrusted 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 that is similar in both accounts is that when the man returns, two of the servants invested well and brought about a greater return on their investment, and one hid what he was given out of fear of his lord.
Another added feature in Luke’s account was the fellow citizens of the nobleman that did not want him 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 Jesus tell 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, and final judgment because we are in the final two weeks of the liturgical year. 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 for the talent or gold coin we have been entrusted with.
There is a unique gift that God has given each of us, and we are called by him to put this gift into action to be a part of building up the kingdom of God. We need to resist burying this gift or wrapping 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 to pray 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. Our starting point though will be the same. We are to trust in God for his guidance regarding how best we can serve him and open ourselves to the love of the Holy Spirit such 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).
We are to share the love that God gives us with one another, but we are not mere social workers. We are to be contemplatives in action. We begin each day in prayer, receiving the Eucharist whenever and as often as possible, and ask God for his guidance regarding how he would have us put into action the gift of his love that he has given us. In this way, Jesus is the source of our strength. He will sustain, guide, and give us the strength to accomplish the task before us.
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.