Parable of the Talents

Posted by Thaddaeus

Matthew 25: 14-15, 19-21


Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.  After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.  The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five.  He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.  See, I have made five more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your master’s joy.'”


Background:  A master goes on a long journey, but before leaving he entrusts his money to a group of slaves (Gk., “doulous”).  The master is Jesus.  We are slaves who have been purchased at great price.  Most of us would read the word talent in this parable as a certain skill, or knack.  In the ancient world, a talent is a 75 lb. weight used for measuring precious metals such as gold and silver.  In today’s dollars, eight talents of gold would be worth over $12 million.  Imagine entrusting this kind of wealth to a group of a slaves.  Eight is the number of perfection.  The totality of the universe.  The cosmic Christ.  The eight beatitudes of the sermon on the mount.  One slave receives five talents. The five books of the Law (Torah). The five fundamental virtues: wisdom, love, truth, goodness and justice.  Another receives two talents: the Old and New Testaments.  Understanding and action.  Talents signify spiritual gifts.


Parable of the Talents:  The third slave receives just one spiritual gift, but still a sizeable amount.  The gift of understanding only.  The gift of understanding develops the gift of faith within us.  It helps us see things as God understands; so we can see and believe.  To see the wisdom, love and truth of God and believe in the fullness of the Trinity.  To see the gifts we may not be using.  This is the effect of the gift of understanding.  In the end, it is not so much the largeness of the profit, but the disposition of the will towards action.  We must see ourselves as slaves of Christ, expected by their master, to make full use of the spiritual gifts given us; so, the kingdom of heaven may grow on earth.  It is not enough that we believe.  Belief requires action for the common good of all.  The first action of belief is Baptism.  Through Baptism we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  We must give an account of their administration.