Today’s Gospel reading can be a puzzling one. It’s the parable of the talents (also the name of an AMAZING book by Octavia E. Butler by the way, but that is a digression). In this Gospel passage from Matthew, we hear the story of the man who, before going way on a journey entrusts his servants with his money. Two servants are rewarded upon his return for trading and increasing the money entrusted to them, while the third is chastised for burying the money out of fear until his master’s return. Is Jesus advising on investment strategy? What exactly is he getting at with this parable?
In the little booklet I use for daily prayer, there’s a reflection by a Good Sam Sister from Australia that helps makes the message very personal, practical, and real:
“The risks that earn us affirmation as ‘good and trustworthy’ are the ordinary kingdom exchanges of daily life; forgiving rather than burying a grudge in our hearts; standing by one another in times of sorrow, failure, or misunderstanding; giving someone the benefit of the doubt; associating with those whom many consider the ‘wrong kind’ of unacceptable people; laying down one’s life for another–perhaps a misunderstood friend, rebellious child, a terminally ill spouse, aged parents. All this ‘now’ effort is preparing us for the ‘not yet’ entry into the kingdom.” – Sr Verna Holyhead, SGS (Give us This Day reflection for this Sunday’s readings)
So one way of reading the parable is this: how much we are really to risk sharing ourselves and living into the not yet aspects of the reign of God in the here and now? This way of reading resonates with me, and it resonates with my own journey of faith and sense of call. God seems to be forever inviting me to risk vulnerability, to open my heart to others, to let go of my fears and my need to control situations that really, if I am honest, are entirely beyond my control. It’s in the unexpected and the ordinary that I am challenged to grow into the life of love that is God’s never-ending invitation.
My experience also tells me that when, in these moments of grace, I am able to risk vulnerability and trust God’s call, then the result is way more about God than it is about me. Sometimes, in those moments of grace, we’re even able to break through our own limitations and step into new territory where the Spirit leads and we follow. And that, my friends, is pure blessing.