Pentecost 24 – Living with Your Talents

Title:Pentecost 24 – Living with Your Talents

From The Rev. Kevin Lloyd. He is the associate rector at Saint Alban’s, Durham, and the Episcopal Campus Minister at Davidson College.

“In the Gospel reading this week, we hear the parable of the talents from Matthew. It is the third in a series of parables in this part of Matthew’s gospel that addresses how followers of Jesus should behave while waiting for his return at the Parousia, which they thought was imminent. While it functions eschatologically in Matthew’s narrative and speaks to specific expectations of his first-century audience, this parable addresses a timeless aspect of what it means to be human and a person of faith.

“The first two slaves took the talents generously entrusted to their care and used them in fruitful ways that brought blessing and delight to both them and their master. The third slave, on the other hand, acting out of fear, simply buried the talent entrusted to him, gaining no benefits for him or his master. The end result is that he finds himself in a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

“What does it mean to wait faithfully? According to this parable, it means not allowing fear to take root in your life in a way that prevents fruitful and courageous living. The first two slaves responded primarily from a place of gratitude, which allowed them to live abundantly rather than fearfully. The third slave responded primarily from a place of fear, allowing that fear to engender a scarcity mindset, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy. His fear-based approach set him on a path towards a self-imposed isolation.

“So, whenever we find ourselves in that place of waiting, not knowing exactly what the future will bring (which is frankly most of the time), with the anxiety and uncertainty that can come with the not-knowing, Jesus invites us to shift our attention to all that we have been given and to live life from a place of gratitude and abundance, rather than fear and scarcity.

“To be clear, regardless of what some traditional ways of reading this parable might suggest, I do not believe for a minute that it is about what we must do to earn our place into “heaven.” While eschatological in tone, especially for Matthew’s first-century audience, I believe the parable is ultimately speaking to the life of faith in the present. The more that we can approach our lives from a place of gratitude, rather than fear, the more we will be able to “enter into the joy” of our Master, here and now, even in the midst of pandemics and political turmoil! Waiting faithfully means living life as much as possible from a place of gratitude, not fear.