Homily: “On the Parable of the Talents”

Offered by Father Matthew Dallman, Obl.S.B., for the Parish of Tazewell County, on the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 28, Year A), 2017.

Last Sunday we heard the Parable of the Ten Maidens, and today we hear about the Parable of the Talents. Our eyes are being directed toward the coming of the Lord, the Christian term for which is a Greek word, Parousia. This is the end and fulfillment of the whole history of salvation. What Saint Matthew in his Gospel intends with these parables is not that we should evade the present, but rather, to help us to live fully in the light of the completion of the history of salvation. We do not know when the end will come, but that it will is essential to ancient, Catholic faith, as we confess in our Creed: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”

Indeed, the Lord will come. On what day or at what hour, is God’s secret, and yet to be revealed to His Church. What has been revealed to us about God has been, and continues to be, done definitively through Jesus Christ, and this is the treasure we have. The teachings of the Church about Jesus Christ are the pearl of great price. These are teachings about our relationship with our Lord and Savior; teachings about how God wants to transform the human heart into a heart of radiant virtues. Virtues of wanting to learn about the character of God (which is the virtue of Faith); of confidence in God’s abiding assistance (which is Hope); and of serving God in other people (which is Charity). The purpose of the Liturgy, indeed the true purpose of the Bible as well as the two-thousand-year tradition of biblical reflection called theology, is to cultivate, inspire, and strengthen these radiant virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and do so by means of the Sacraments, which are God’s instruments of peace.

Like the talents in our Gospel Lesson (which in our understanding is equivalent of saying “a million dollars” or some other exorbitant sum of money), Jesus Christ, who is our Master, entrusts His servants with the Sacraments, and then, in a manner of speaking, He goes away, to return again at His Second Coming (although of course, through His sacraments, He is at all times present to us). And so if we consider this Parable of the Talents from this perspective, of the entrusting of Sacraments to us, the servants, for a long time until our Master’s return, what can we learn?

Brothers and sisters, we learn that we must be using the Sacraments, and not merely receiving them for ourselves alone, which in effect buries them just for ourselves. In the Parable, the Master judged the third servant inadequate. Why? Because he did not invest the treasure given to him with the bankers, which is for us a symbol of the world around us. The third servant kept the treasure hidden in the ground rather than allowing it to interact with the world around him. The treasure we are given by God gains value when it interacts with others in our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods.

In other words, this Parable of the Talents is really a parable about Mission. Our mission is to be agents of God’s peace. God wants His peace to grow in the world, spreading to all reaches of our earth. The treasure He entrusts to us are the Sacraments, and we are to invest these treasures with the world around us. We are to be actively searching out opportunities to mingle God’s treasure entrusted to us through His Sacraments and the people in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces. It is through this interaction that God’s Holy Spirit works to increase His peace. We are not responsible for growth, for only God gives the increase. But we are responsible for making available the gift, through our Mission in Tazewell County. Let us pray:

Everliving God, Whose will it is that all should come to You through Your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to Him in Tazewell County, that all may know the power of His forgiveness and the hope of His resurrection; Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.