Commentary on the Lectionary: Nov. 13 – How to Use our Talents, Matthew 25:14-30
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Commentary on the Lectionary: Nov. 13 – How to Use our Talents, Matthew 25:14-30 

In this parable, a master entrusts three servants with his wealth. Two invest the money and get a good return, and the master praises them and gives them promotions. The third buried the money and, when faced by the master’s ire, said, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow,” so in fear he hid the money. The master berated the servant, declaring, “You know that I reap where I have not sowed …?” The master declared that the servant should have at least invested the money with bankers. So, the master gave this servant’s talent to a servant who had invested profitably and pronounced, “For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The text then describes how the “worthless servant” was cast “into the outer darkness”.
All parables are open to a range of interpretations, but this is a particularly difficult one to untangle. It is natural to presume that the “master” is God, particularly since the text describes the servant he condemned as “worthless.” Is the master indeed hard and does the master deserve the servant’s criticism that he reaps where he does not sow? I suggest that the master expects his servants to serve him faithfully, regardless of how they perceive him. Those who regard the master as benevolent are eager to please him and invest the talents vigorously. The other servant regarded the master as a harsh judge, but he still had an obligation to carry out his duties.
Though talent refers to a unit of money, I think we can apply this parable to all the talents we have, whether they are financial, intellectual, artistic, or otherwise. We are given these talents by grace of God, and it our duty and our challenge to use them effectively in service to God. Otherwise, we find ourselves alienated from God – the source of our being – and we feel as if we are in “outer darkness.” Therefore, those who serve God enthusiastically reap rewards (though experience tells us that those rewards are often not financial) and will have a sense of abundance. Those who reject their calling will feel impoverished, even though they might have riches.

Next week, I’ll reflect further on what it means to utilize our talents. 

Go on to: On Using Our Talents
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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