If we were one of the three servants, which one would we like to be, and which one would we actually be?
The parable of the talents is about responding creatively to a challenge, from God or other people, and acting responsibly.
It seems that the master had a good idea about the abilities of his servants, he entrusted most to the servant who, eventually, was able to provide the greatest return. But the challenge was clear; be a wise steward of the master’s wealth.
The master, although keen to increase his fortune was also encouraging his servants to act responsibly and to use their initiative, he expected them to act wisely.
The first two are both commended, although one apparently achieved more that the other; the point is that they both did their best.
The third servant failed in his duty because he refused to make any effort, even to most minimal of putting the money in a bank.
He buried it in the ground. Are we guilty sometimes of doing the same when we face a challenge in life, of burying our heads in the sand?
This parable is not simply about using wisely what we have been given, it’s about our expectations of one another.
The master could have simply banked the money himself but that wasn’t the point. If he has no expectations of his servants, they would not have been challenged to grow in creativity and responsibility.
This theme echoes the second reading where Paul is urging the Christians of Thessalonica to be prepared for the sudden arrival of the Day of the Lord. if they are to be ready, they need to be awake and clear headed, they cannot risk being caught of guard. They must be alert while others sleep. But this hardship is not and end in itself; eventually it is for the well being of those to whom the message is directed, including ourselves.
If we expect little of our fellow human beings, we will seldom be able to see beyond our own poor expectations. If you want to see the bad in someone, then that is all you will see.
If we regard others highly, seeing them as capable of greatness, we give them room to blossom and grow.
Our demands must be for their good and not simply to highlight their failure in order to boost ourselves by comparison.
Where we have the genuine interests of other at heart, we do well to expect much, accepting their limitations, but always encouraging growth.
When attempting something worthwhile for the Lord, we may find the going exceptionally tough, but this reminds us of what we will endure for something we deeply desire. If we cannot even put up with minor hardship, it’s clear that we don’t really want to achieve our aim.
The Gospel of the Lord make demands upon us. Not to satisfy an infinitely demanding God, but to challenge us to grow; to grow more like God Himself.