Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21
Today’s first reading is the concluding poem in the book of Proverbs, and its theme is no coincidence. In ancient Israel’s patriarchal society, men dominated almost all affairs outside the confines of the home — obtaining all the credit for their work while the strenuous work of women often went unrecognized. In essence, this poem was calling husbands to be ever mindful of what blessings their wives were to them and to society.
In a different way, the second reading also reminds us to be ever mindful of our blessings — a necessary ingredient of being "children of the light." "Remain alert and sober," Paul writes. For if we live in "darkness" we never become grateful people, nor are we able to make good use of the blessings God has given us.
The "Parable of the Talents" certainly speaks to the theme of the first two readings, but with so much more depth. During the time of Jesus, a talent was the equivalent of thirty kilograms (66 pounds) of precious metal – quite a large amount of metal. Since then, people have come to understand the word "talent" as having dual meanings in the gospel. However, what must not be overlooked is the incredible amount of weight one talent was, let alone two or five talents. With this image in mind, it becomes much more powerful when we picture a master giving multiple talents away to his servants.
The parable speaks of the master’s trust in his servants. Only a master with deep faith and trust would give so much treasure away and expect it not to be wasted. In fact, such an act exhibits a childlike trust and innocence very rarely seen in our world. Far too often we think trust is a one-way street in our relationship with God; we become bogged down trying to perfect our faith and trust in God, while ignoring the extraordinary reality that GOD TRUSTS IN US! The image of God having childlike faith and trust in us is something most of us rarely bring to prayer, but it is certainly an image that can breathe life into our spiritual journey.
Reflecting on an image of a God with total and complete trust in us should then help us to see our talents for exactly what they are: God’s beautiful gifts to us. We don’t create the talents; we turn them into the kingdom of God!
Tony Cortese, a recent college graduate, is the Campus Minister at the Newman Catholic Community at Sacramento State Univversity.