Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you.
Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders. His right hand and his holy arm have brought salvation. (R./)
Let the sea and all within it, thunder; the world, and all its peoples. Let the rivers clap their hands and the hills ring out their joy at the presence of the Lord. (R./)
For the Lord comes, he comes to rule the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness. (R./)
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
"But from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." This painful paradox states the blunt fact that in our competitive world the Haves can grow their wealth, while the Have-nots can be robbed to penury. It surely does not express what Jesus regards as right and just, i.e. a community of love and sharing. But the paradox still has some practical applications. Like a machine with moving parts, God's gifts must be in active use in order to stay in good condition. Non-use leads to rusted parts and clogged-up valves. Physical and spiritual life degenerates if left dormant.
The inspired Scriptures are just part of the process of discerning the will and purpose of God. As we examine our precious heritage of Sacred Scripture, the Bible can iluminate our personal, family, society and church aims and expectations. We pray for the enlightenment of God's Spirit while also reflecting on our experience. Those who have engaged in this dialogue will get more, while those who just sit tight are in danger of losing the little they have.
Paul offers a vital guideline for keeping up the quality of our life: Jesus is our sanctification, for he enables our best self to emerge; and he is our redemption, so that we form one living person with him as our elder brother, whose spirit and example we try to follow in everything.
When Jesus includes three characters in a parable, the emphasis is usually on the third character. The best example of this is the good Samaritan, mentioned after the priest and Levite who pass the wounded man on the roadside, but whose response is the focus of that story. In the parable of the Talents, the third servant saw his master in a a very negative light, as "a hard man, reaping where he had not sown." Because this servant was scared of his master, he just buried what he had been given. By contrast, the other two servants had a much more generous view of their master. This made them free to take initiatives and well-judged risks with what they had been given.
Jesus reveals a God of infinite generosity, One whose goodness leaves us astonished, who remains faithful even when we are not faithful. This is not a God who wants us to fail, but rather to launch out into the deep. God will continue to befriend us whether or not we catch anything. Perfect love drives out fear, according to the first letter of Saint John. The assurance of God's love should drive out the kind of fear that left the third servant in the parable crippled. If we are generous with what we have received, we can entrust the result entirely to God.