33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)
The Parable of the Talents
1. Opening prayer
a) The division of the text to help in the reading:
Matthew 25, 14-15: The master distributes his goods among his servants
b) Key for the reading:
In this 33rd Sunday of the Ordinary time we shall meditate on the Parable of the Talents which deals with two very important themes and very up to date: (i) The gifts which each person receives from God and the way in which he receives them. Each person has qualities, talents, with which he can and should serve others. Nobody is only a pupil, nobody is only a professor. We learn from one another. (ii) The attitude with which persons place themselves before God who has given us his gifts . During the reading, we shall try to be very attentive to these two points: which is the attitude of the three servants regarding the gifts received and which is the image of God that this parable reveals to us?
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one, each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. 17 The man who had received two made two more in the same way. 18 But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now a long time afterwards, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. "Sir," he said, "you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made." 21 His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness." 22 Next the man with the two talents came forward. "Sir," he said, "you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made." 23 His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness." 24 Last came forward the man who had the single talent. "Sir," said he, "I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you had not sown and gathering where you had not scattered; 25 so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back." 26 But his master answered him, "You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? 27 Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have got my money back with interest. 28 So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he has. 30 As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth."
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which is the point of this text which has pleased me the most and which has struck me more? Why?
5. For those who wish to deepen the theme
a) Context of our text in the Gospel of Matthew:
The “Parable of the Talents” (Mt 25, 14-30) forms part of the 5th Sermon of the New Law (Mt 24, 1 to 25, 46). These three parables clarify the context relative to the time of the coming of the Kingdom. the parable of the Ten Virgins insists on vigilance: The Kingdom of God can arrive from one moment to the next. The parable of the talents orientates on the growth of the Kingdom: the Kingdom grows when we use the gifts received to serve. The parable of the Final Judgment teaches how to take possession of the Kingdom: the Kingdom is accepted, when we accept the little ones.
One of the things which exercise greater influence in our life is the idea that we have of God. Among the Jews of the class of the Pharisees, some imagined God as a severe Judge who treated the persons according to the merits acquired by the observance of the law. That caused fear and prevented the persons from growing. It prevented them from opening a space within themselves to accept the new experience of God which Jesus communicated. To help these persons, Matthew narrates the parable of the talents.
b) Commentary on the text:
Matthew 25, 14-15: A door to enter into the story of the parable
Matthew 25, 16-18: The way of acting of each servant.
Matthew 25, 19-23: The rendering of account of the first and second servant
Matthew 25, 24-25: Rendering of an account of the third servant
Matthew 25, 26-27: Response of the master to the third servant
Matthew 25, 28-30: The final word of the master which clarifies the parable
The different currency of the Kingdom:
There is no difference between those who receive more and those who receive less. All receive according to their capacity. What is important is that the gift is placed at the service of the Kingdom and that it makes the goods of the Kingdom grow, which are love, fraternity, sharing. The principal key of the parable does not consist in producing talents, but indicates the way in which it is necessary to live our relationship with God. The first two servants ask for nothing, they do not seek their own well being, they do not keep the talents for themselves, they make no calculations, they do not measure. Very naturally, almost without being aware and without seeking any merit for themselves, they begin to work, in order that the gift received bears fruit for God and for the Kingdom. The third servant is afraid and, because of this, does nothing. According to the norms of the ancient law, he acts in a correct way. He remains within the established exigencies. He loses nothing, but neither does he gain anything. Because of this he loses even what he had. The Kingdom is a risk. The one who does not want to run risks, loses the Kingdom!
6. Psalm 62
In God alone there is rest for my soul
In God alone there is rest for my soul,
Rest in God alone, my soul!
Ordinary people are a mere puff of wind,
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
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