Today’s Gospel is Luke’s slightly different account of the Parable of the Talents we heard on Sunday from St. Matthew. The differences between these two parables isn’t particularly important, though they are interesting. In Luke’s story, the amount given to each servant is much smaller than a talent. This reinforces the important spiritual teaching that we aren’t to worry about how much we have received, but that we are to invest what we’ve been given as wisely as we can. God has given us a great gift in Jesus: the grace to live a life liberated from the snares of sin and bound for resurrection. We are expected to use the Gospel we’ve been given to increase the fruitfulness of the Gospel around us.
An interesting thought to consider is the motive of the man who buries or hides the gift he’s been entrusted with. We find out in Matthew’s parable that this fearful person could have simply invested the money in the bank to avoid being chastened by the master. We are called to do what we can, with whatever generosity we can muster, to spread the Gospel: it isn’t a competition – but if we bury the good news we’ve been given it won’t even do us any good. If we bury it, it will be taken away and given to someone who has brought forth fruit. Johann Bengel, a Lutheran scripture commentator from the 18th century, pointed out that it is actually more work to bury and hide than it is to entrust our gift to someone else. Let us then not be afraid to do what we can, in whatever our state of life, to spread the Gospel – as insignificant as it may seem to us.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
To those who believe in him, the Savior distributes a variety of divine gifts. We affirm that this is the meaning of the talent. Truly great is the difference between those who receive the talents and those who have even completely denied his kingdom. They are rebels that throw off the yoke of his scepter, while the others are endowed with the glory of serving him. As faithful servants, therefore, they are entrusted with their Lord’s wealth. They gain something by doing business. They earn the praises due to faithful service, and they are considered worthy of eternal honors.1
Interest on the Word of God is having in life and deeds things that the Word of God has commanded. When you hear the Word, if you use it and act according to those words that you hear and live according to these words, then you are preparing interest for the Lord. Each of you can make ten talents from five. You will then hear from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you shall have power over ten cities.” Beware of this, fearing that any one of you may gather “in a napkin” or bury “in the earth” the money that has been received. You know well the nature of the outcome for this kind of man when the Lord comes.2
What you have offered to God you shall receive back multiplied. Something like this, although put in another way, is related in the Gospels when in a parable someone received a pound that he might engage in business, and the master of the house demanded the money. If you have caused five to be multiplied to ten, then they are given to you. Hear what Scripture says, “Take his pound, and give it to him who has ten pounds.”
We therefore appear at least to engage in business for the Lord, but the profits of the business go to us. We appear to offer sacrifice to the Lord, but the things we offer are given back to us. God does not need anything, but he wants us to be rich. He desires our progress through each, individual thing.3
God is greedy for our salvation. If such condemnation befalls the servant who did not use what he had received, what should they who lose it expect? We therefore are dispensers. We expend, but you receive. We expect a profit on your part—living good lives—for that is the profit from our dispensing. Do not think that you are free from the obligation of dispensing. Of course, you cannot dispense your gifts as from this higher station of ours, but you can dispense them in whatever station you happen to be. When Christ is attacked, defend him. Give an answer to those who complain. Rebuke blasphemers, but keep yourselves far from any fellowship with them. If in this way you gain anyone, you are putting your gifts to use.4
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 129. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 293). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY ON EXODUS 13.1. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 294). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY ON GENESIS 8. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 295). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 94. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 295). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.