1 Thessalonians 4: 9-11
Matthew 25: 14-30
"..Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy…."
The parables of Jesus not only help us to learn more about God’s Kingdom, but they also provide us with some insights that help us to move more effectively along that road to the Kingdom. These parables continue to have relevance in our lives today.
The message of today’s gospel parable is simply this: the Christian is a person who must put himself or herself at risk. We are asked to become risk takers. The master gives money to two of the servants, they put the money to work, make a profit and make their master happy. These two individuals took risks.
It’s precisely this willingness to take risks that the master finds lacking in the third servant. "You did not put the money to work because you were afraid you might lose it. Because of your fear, I received no profit. Now you will lose everything."
Why must a Christian put himself/herself at risk? At the heart of Christianity is Christ’s commandment to love God and love people. Is that command risky? Indeed !! This will very often mean; "take up your cross, die to yourself, live by Christian values and follow me." The demands of being a Christian can be very challenging.
Jesus’ parable is, of course, about what we do with all that God has given us. "How are we managing our gifts and talents?"
God has given everyone an abundance of gifts and talents. The gifts we have received are to be developed. The gift is the potential and our development of this potential brings about fulfillment of the gift.
I suspect that fear is the reason that many are reluctant to use their gifts or talents. Some may believe they have few, if any, talents that God would want to use.
God is accustomed to working miracles with "one talent people" who have enough faith in God and in themselves to do significant things. Remove the haloes from these heroes and saints of the past and let’s take a good look at them.
Moses was a man who had murdered an Egyptian. James and John were self-absorbed fishermen who tried to badger Jesus into giving them special seats in heaven. Peter was impulsive and widely known for making promises he could not keep. Paul was an unimpressive Pharisee determined to persecute every Christian that crossed his path. These were "one talent individuals" whom God took and twisted their talent into something incredibly significant…and today we call them saints!
The choice before us is one of being a reluctant servant or a risky servant!
God’s biggest challenge is not with big, important people…there are only a few of them in the world. No, God’s biggest challenge is with all of us "one talent" types who believe that no matter what we do it won’t make much difference.
There is great joy in developing and using our gifts and talents in a lifelong partnership with the One who created us, and God continues to use "ordinary" people to do "extraordinary" things!!
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.