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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Don't be a Good-for-nothing

"And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey."

(Matthew 25:15 NKJV)



The parable of the talents is introduced by a man, a wealthy landowner, who on the eve of a journey calls his servants and entrusts them with wealth, proportionate to each one's ability. Although large sums are at stake, the message, however, is not economic; in fact, it refers us to the wait between the departure and the return of the master, during which each is called upon to traffic in the gifts received. It teaches that talent is both wealth and the ability to generate wealth, only if we are able to take care of it. Servants are required not to betray their master's trust and to operate a wise stewardship of the goods, which are not their property, with a view to a reward at his return, which will last for "a long time," an allusion to the Lord's glorious coming. In the Greek language, talent is the largest measure: 1 talent corresponded to about 36 kilograms of precious metal (silver), which is equivalent to 6,000 working days, the wages of 20 years of labor. This helps us understand the act of the third and the fear that conditions it.


What lies behind the talents? It has moved from being a precious coin over time to figuratively indicate a natural predisposition. In the parable, however, it is clear that the talents belong to the master, who entrusts them to the servants. Thus they are not the personal gifts or abilities that each person can develop over time. They are gifts from the Creator, starting with life, which is a gift not to be wasted, ignored or dissipated. Unfortunately, every day we witness or learn of actions that testify how for some people life has no value, to the point of giving it up or wasting it through dissolute conduct. The quintessential gift, completely free, is the Gospel, the "good news" of Jesus and Himself (John 3:16), given by the Father (master) for all mankind. According to some, the talents are the words the Lord entrusted to the disciples to keep and make them fruitful in their lives, putting them into practice to the point of sowing them abundantly around them. The master knows the abilities of his servants and has at least one "gift" for everyone. Therefore, the distribution is not random, but well thought out, even with regard to the one who will hide the talent.


Upon returning from the journey, the three servants appear before the master, who praises the first two for having obtained the doubling of what was entrusted: "good and faithful," he will tell them. "Good" indicates having the appropriate characteristics to perform a task satisfactorily, thus being efficient. "Faithful" indicates that he has proven to be trustworthy, thus a person who can be trusted because he serves the master's interests, unlike the third party. The latter has a distorted image of the Lord, shaped by fear and conditioned by an inability to trust the other, and so he chooses not to take risks, thinking he is preserving what he has received. His attitude, however, meets with the reaction of the master, who calls him "wicked and lazy." Wicked because he has made himself a perverted image of the Lord, and because of this he has lived a servile love relationship that has made him lazy, untrustworthy, despite the trust placed in him. He did not have the slightest care for the good he received, since he did not even make the slightest effort to put it in the bank, where it would yield.


Unfortunately, it is easier to bury the gifts God has given us than to share them; it is easier to hold on to positions assumed over time than to discover new ones; it is easier to distrust those who have done us good than to consciously reciprocate them. The third servant will turn out to be "good for nothing" (useless, slacker, v. 30), because he did not do evil, but worse, he did nothing, choosing mediocrity. The parable exhorts us not to stand still, to be resourceful by accepting the risk that we may even make mistakes in order to generate new fruit. God likes the courage of those who are unapologetically committed. Faith in the Lord and His Word will motivate us to service, since inability and futility contradict the work of Grace in us.


 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 11


March 11, Deuteronomy 16-18; Mark 13:1-20

March 12, Deuteronomy 19-21; Mark 13:21-37

March 13, Deuteronomy 22-24; Mark 14:1-26

March 14, Deuteronomy 25-27; Mark 14:27-53

March 15, Deuteronomy 28-29; Mark 14:54-72

March 16, Deuteronomy 30-31; Mark 15:1-25

March 17, Deuteronomy 32-34; Mark 15:26-47

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